Jalen Wilson’s much-anticipated NBA draft announcement came down Wednesday afternoon, with the third-team All-Big 12 forward taking his name out of the NBA draft and returning to Kansas for his redshirt junior season.
Kevin McCullar, a transfer from Texas Tech, will also be headed to Lawrence after he also dropped out of the draft process.
Wilson’s return is a major coup for coach Bill Self’s Jayhawks, who will have a much different looking roster in 2022-23 compared to their national championship team from this past season. He’s the only one of KU’s top five scorers coming back from a year ago, with Ochai Agbaji, Christian Braun, David McCormack and Remy Martin all pursuing professional opportunities.
Last season, Wilson overcame a slow start following a suspension for a DUI and ended the year averaging 11.1 points and 7.4 rebounds per game, and he was at his best in postseason play. Between the Big 12 and NCAA tournaments, Wilson’s stats ticked up to 12 points and 7.8 rebounds per game, and he also collected three double-doubles during March Madness.
“We are all very excited to hear the news today from Jalen and his family that he will be returning to school for the 2022-23 campaign,” Self said in a statement via KU Athletics, later adding: “As well as Jalen played last year, he is just scratching the surface of the entire player he can be for our program.”
Wilson had reportedly garnered some interest from NBA teams, including at least one reported workout with the San Antonio Spurs.
McCullar, meanwhile, made his announcement later on Wednesday night, withdrawing from the draft and making his move from Texas Tech to Kansas official.
A three-year contributor for the Red Raiders and an All-Big 12 honorable mention this season, McCullar is one of the better perimeter defenders returning to college basketball this year. Offensively, he averaged 10.1 points per game in 2021-22.
He also will take up the Jayhawks’ last available scholarship, which was left open with Braun’s decision to stay in the draft last week.
By adding McCullar and bringing Wilson back, KU will have plenty of veteran talent and versatility in its starting five, plus a highly touted freshman class. Both Wilson and McCullar are expected to start, alongside junior Dajuan Harris at point guard. As for the other starting roles, sophomores Zach Clemence and K.J. Adams are expected to vie for the starting job at the five spot, while players battling for time on the perimeter will likely include junior Joseph Yesefu, sophomore Bobby Pettiford and freshman Gradey Dick, among others.