Kansas Jayhawks hoops coach Bill Self shares update on Kevin McCullar’s whiplash injury

Evert Nelson/The Capital-Journal/USA TODAY NETWORK
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Senior University of Kansas guard Kevin McCullar led his team in scoring with 21 points and was second in rebounding with six rebounds in the Jayhawks’ 73-55 exhibition victory over Fort Hays State on Wednesday night at Allen Fieldhouse.

The 6-foot-7 San Antonio native, who also had a game-high three steals, produced big-time numbers despite playing just 11 minutes in the second half and sitting out the final 6:52 after re-aggravating a case of whiplash. McCullar was hurt after diving for a loose ball during the closing minute of last Sunday’s 82-75 exhibition loss at Illinois.

“He got his neck hit again. They told us at halftime, ‘Bill, he may not be able to play much the second half,’’’ KU coach Bill Self said of McCullar, who hit four of eight 3-pointers versus the FHSU after converting 2 of 3 from beyond the arc and scoring 25 points while playing 35 minutes vs. Illinois. He played 29 minutes against FHSU.

“Kevin made two 3s to start the second half that I’m sure eased the pain,” Self said. “I said, ‘Are you done for the night?’ He said, ‘I’m done for the night.’ He’ll be fine. It’s soft-tissue stuff.”

Self said Friday that McCullar might miss some practice time in advance of Monday’s regular-season opener against North Carolina Central (7 p.m. at Allen Fieldhouse).

“Am I worried that he’s sore? Yes,” Self said. “But what has happened with Kevin, without going into too much detail because obviously I don’t know and I’m not an orthopedic, is the symptoms he had after the Illinois game may not be totally gone, but are pretty close to being gone.

“He’s just got a sore spot (in neck). He has improved even though it doesn’t feel great. He gets it hit, it hurts. That’s the bottom line. To be honest with you that’s the way a lot of injuries are. You can actually get out there (and play), you just hope it doesn’t get hit and if it does it sets you back a little bit. I don’t think he’s going to be in a situation he’s set back from participation or anything like that.”

Freshman guard Johnny Furphy, who scored two points and grabbed three rebounds while playing 14 minutes against Fort Hays State, will have his “minutes and reps monitored for a while,” Self said.

Furphy has been slowed by shin splints in both legs the past couple weeks. He missed the Illinois exhibition and made his KU debut Wednesday.

“It’s going to continually increase,” Self said of Furphy’s playing time.

There were a few no-shows for FHSU

Wednesday’s exhibition game against Fort Hays State was technically a sellout with 16,300 tickets purchased.

However, there were some empty seats not only in the student section (northwest rafters), but a few in the chairback section — basically, the best seats in the building.

Self was asked Friday if he wished fans would sell their tickets (or give them away) if they can’t make it to games.

“To me, an exhibition game doesn’t count at all, so we probably still had 12,000 people here, which I get that,” Self said. “I’ll be honest with you, there’s been times I bought tickets to something and something comes up (so) I can’t actually attend that day.

“I don’t think it’ll be like that for a majority of our games. The crowd … I actually walked out there thinking that’s a heck of a lot better than what I thought it’d be (for exhibition on a Wednesday night). As far as what you said about the chairbacks, those people that sit in those chairbacks are pretty loyal Jayhawks, so I’m OK with them.”

Dickinson on player of year watch list

Kansas senior center Hunter Dickinson has been named to the preseason watch list for the 2024 NABC Division I Player of the Year award, the National Association of Basketball Coaches announced.

Twenty players made the watch list, including Texas’ Max Abmas.

Four Jayhawks have won the NABC Division I Player of the Year award: Danny Manning (1988), Drew Gooden (2002), Nick Collison (2003) and Frank Mason (2017). The award was first bestowed in 1975.

Dickinson, a transfer from Michigan, is the Big 12’s preseason player of the year and preseason newcomer of the year, becoming the first player in conference history to earn both honors in the same season.

The 2024 NABC Division I Player of the Year — selected by a vote of Division I coaches — will be announced the week of the 2024 Final Four.

Dickinson scored 17 points and grabbed 11 rebounds against Fort Hays State after scoring 22 points with nine rebounds at Illinois.