🏀 Kansas Duo on Naismith Defensive Player of the Year Watchlist

ATLANTA – Kansas graduate guard Kevin McCullar Jr. and redshirt-senior guard Dajuan Harris Jr. have been named to the 2024 Naismith Defensive Player of the Year Watchlist, the Atlanta Tipoff Club announced Wednesday. Kansas is one of two schools to have two on the list of 15 players.

McCullar or Harris are aiming to become just the second Jayhawk to win the Naismith Defensive Player of the Year recipient, joining KU standout Marcus Garrett who won the honor in 2020. The award began in 2018.

A native of San Antonio, Texas, McCullar is on the watchlist for the third-consecutive season as he was a semifinalist for the award in both 2022, while at Texas Tech, and 2023 while at Kansas. McCullar leads the Big 12 in scoring at 19.5 points per game, which is 39th nationally. His two triple-doubles are the most amongst the NCAA. McCullar also leads KU with 35 three-point field goals made. His 6.4 rebounds per game are second on the team and he ranks in 11 Big 12 statistical categories. McCullar’s 102 assists and 34 steals are second on the team behind Harris who has 154 assists and 36 steals.

On most every All-American list in 2023-24 and three-time All-Big 12 selection, McCullar has 1,468 career points, 729 rebounds, 333 assists and 212 steals. His 212 steals rank 10th on the NCAA Division I active players list. McCullar graduated from KU in May of 2023 with a bachelor’s degree in liberal arts and science.

Harris is appearing on the list for the first time in his career. The Columbia, Missouri native was recently named a Bob Cousy Award top-10 candidate. Harris leads the Big 12 with 6.7 assists per game, which is seventh nationally. Harris averages 7.7 points per contest and his 2.9 assist-to-turnover ratio is third in the Big 12.

The 2022-23 Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year, Harris has 609 career assists and 201 career steals and is one of only four Kansas players to have amassed more than 600 assists and 200 steals. Other KU greats who have accomplished the feat include Aaron Miles (2002-05, 954 assists, 264 steals), Kirk Hinrich (2000-03, 668 assists, 206 steals) and Darnell Valentine (1978-81, 609 assists, 336 steals).

Harris is a three-time Academic All-Big 12 First Team selection who graduated from KU in May of 2023 with a bachelor’s degree in liberal arts and science.

2024 Naismith Men’s Defensive Player of the Year Watchlist
Name, School
Adrian “Ace” Baldwin Jr., Penn State
Reece Beekman, Virginia
Adem Bona, UCLA
Johni Broome, Auburn
Devin Carter, Providence
Ryan Dunn, Virginia
Zach Edey, Purdue
Jaelen House, New Mexico
Ryan Kalkbrenner, Creighton
Tamin Lipsey, Iowa State
Clifford Omoruyi, Rutgers
Jamal Shead, Houston
Zakai Zeigler, Tennessee