Mark Adams and Kevin McCullar Both Call Split a ‘Mutual Decision’
Kevin McCullar came to Texas Tech as a midseason addition after being injured in high school. McCullar watched from the bench as the Red Raiders went on a run to the National Championship game. He then starred on two teams that really struggled to find themselves.
In 2019-20, McCullar was arguably Texas Tech's best player down the stretch. In 2020-21, Mac McClung got all the hype, but again it was McCullar doing all the heavy lifting getting that team to be a 6-seed.
When Chris Beard left for the 40 Acres, McCullar made a public show that he was a Red Raider for life and that Mark Adams was the man for the job. McCullar could have left, but he stayed behind and Adams rose like a phoenix from the ashes to lead Texas Tech back to a 3-seed in the NCAA Tournament and a Sweet 16.
After the season, McCullar announced that he'd decided to enter the NBA Draft process. A few weeks after that he announced that he'd also entered the transfer portal in the event that he returns to college basketball, all while maintaining that his main goal was the NBA Draft.
When the above announcement was made, I discussed on The Raiderland with Ryan Hyatt that McCullar was not returning to Texas Tech. The writing was on the wall after the portal was in play. I've held the opinion for a long time that McCullar is an Elite Defender, but that won't make him an intriguing NBA prospect. He must be able to show that he can be a viable offensive threat.
Maybe McCullar can do that at the NBA Combine, which includes multiple scrimmages and drills, but my thought for months was that McCullar would return to college basketball and, like Terrence Shannon, search for a better offensive fit for his game. His style of defense will play anywhere.
That played out on Sunday, May 1st when McCullar announced that if he returned to college basketball, his two options would be either Kansas or Gonzage.
The Twittersphere blew up with messages to McCullar calling him out for lacking loyalty, being "Soft AF" and fans of Texas Tech voicing an overall expression of betrayal.
It didn't take long for McCullar to respond to fans, saying that Texas Tech fans are, "quick to accept a transfer but bash one for leaving." McCullar also left a somewhat cryptic, "Decisions are mutual” in the statement for good measure.
McCullar's decision to throw in the phrase “decisions are mutual” shouldn't be lost on Texas Tech fans. We don't know what the process is behind the scenes. Did anyone stop to think that maybe Mark Adams didn't want to have to wait for McCullar to decide by June 13th and have to hold a scholarship free all summer?
Did you stop to imagine that maybe McCullar expressed an interest to Adams that he wanted to remain at point guard and Adams told him he could totally do that…at another school?
We don't have to imagine if Adams agreed with the mutualness of the decision, he doubled down on the thoughts this afternoon saying, "We should all wish Kevin McCullar the best on his decision to remain in the NBA Draft." Adams stated on his Twitter account, "These are difficult decisions for our student-athletes and he deserves our respect."
Absolutely, but coach…was it mutual? "This was a mutual decision that I believe will work out as he pursues his dream of playing in the NBA,” he added.
Sometimes the best option is to move on.
The transfer portal and NIL have fans on high alert that everyone can be bought for a price, and while that’s absolutely happening around college basketball, I 100 percent don't think that applies to Kevin McCullar. If McCullar wants to be in the NBA, his offensive game has to improve. He’s had three years to improve it at Texas Tech. If he's back in college basketball, it's best for him to get another coach to broaden his skill set.
That doesn't mean Mark Adams is a bad coach. Guys around the country who are great offensive players are flocking to Adams to have him improve their defense. Kevin Obanor, Bryson Williams and Fardaws Aimaq have all said as much.
In the immediate aftermath of last night, I shared a few thoughts that I think to make even more sense after Adams confirmed that McCullar and he made a mutual decision for McCullar to test the NBA waters and enter the portal.
I still think McCullar holds the Texas Tech program and Mark Adams in high regard. It's no secret though that the offense has left a lot to be desired in Lubbock. Adams is doing his best to rectify that and maybe that plan includes moving on from defensive specialists like Kevin McCullar.
Even more so, McCullar didn't sign with Texas Tech for life. Nobody does. Athletic scholarships renew every year. McCullar gave three and a half years of his life to Texas Tech through one of the most brutal coaching changes in college basketball history. Now he wants an opportunity to show he's more than an elite defender and that he's a well-rounded basketball player.
Imagine an engineering student who goes to Texas Tech and was learning the business a certain way. The same student takes an internship at a dream job that says they like the student, but they'd prefer he picks up different skills and that they prefer hiring from a school that teaches those skills.
Would you call that engineering student a loser scumbag with no loyalty if he transferred? I certainly wouldn't.
Why are college athletes held to another standard?