Kansas Basketball Record Watch 2018-19: David McCormack
A couple of months ago, when KU junior Udoka Azubuike announced he would return for his junior season at Kansas instead of trying to make it in the NBA, the first thing that popped into my head was where Azubuike stood in KU’s record books in a few key areas.
Granted, because he missed all but 11 games of his freshman season and also missed time during his sophomore season, Azubuike has not exactly played the kind of games or logged the amount of minutes to make a real push for any of KU’s biggest records.
But surely there are some that, after a monster junior season, could be a factor for Azubuike, right?
And if that’s the case, couldn’t that be true for just about every scholarship player on KU’s roster?
I mean, we all can agree that Quentin Grimes isn’t going to finish his first year at Kansas — and possibly his only year here — as the school’s all-time leading scorer, but could he make a push for KU’s freshman scoring record?
Last year’s KU media guide featured 19 full pages of school records. So over the next several days, we’re going to take a look at (a) what records some of these guys might be closing in on, if any, and (b) which record(s) each KU player could realistically make a run at during the 2018-19 season.
Some of it might be a stretch. But, hey, it’s August, and even if some of what you’ll read in the next few days isn’t likely, it’s still kind of fun to think about the best case scenarios in a sort of what-if mentality.
Next up: David McCormack
I know Kansas forward David McCormack has generated quite a bit of buzz this summer because of his motor and massive frame, but it’s important to remember that, in some ways, McCormack is still a bit of a project.
By project, we’re talking abut the type of player who has to learn how he fits into a deep and talented team at Kansas, for Bill Self and at the college level.
Clearly, if McCormack walked into just about any gym in America, people of all ages would salivate over the chance to add him to their squad. But finding a role on this Kansas team will be tougher and will require McCormack to keep his motor high and his skills progressing.
With that in mind, one of the easiest ways to find early and consistent playing time will be to pinpoint one area of the game he can excel at and then to dominate that area.
For McCormack, at least as of today, that area is rebounding and there’s no doubt that McCormack can be a major factor for Kansas on the glass.
At 6-foot-10, 265 pounds, McCormack is KU’s second largest player. But his frame, though still enormous, lends itself a little better than KU’s biggest player — 7-foot, 280-pound center Udoka Azubuike — to going after the ball when it comes off the rim.
Even if McCormack is not more explosive than Azubuike, he seems to be a quicker jumper, which should bode well for his ability to become a tenacious rebounder.
How tenacious? I’m glad you asked. And that’s why we’re here.
Because of his still-developing skill set in other aspects of the game, McCormack will be hard-pressed to set any kind of KU records for scoring, passing, shooting or otherwise during his freshman season.
But it’s possible — yes, possible — that he can make a run at some kind of rebounding record.
Rebounds per game is out. That record belongs to Wilt Chamberlain and sits at 18.9 per game during the 1957-58 season. Same for total rebounds in a season. Wilt grabbed a whopping 510 rebounds the season before, and only two Jayhawks (Drew Gooden with 423 in 2001-02 and Thomas Robinson with 463 in 2011-12) have even topped 400 in the 60 years since.
Rebounds in a game also belongs to Chamberlain, who ripped down 36 in a win over Iowa State in 1958.
But what about most rebounds in a single game by a KU freshman? Wilt, you’ll recall, was unable to play as a freshman because of NCAA rules so that record belongs to former KU center Eric Chenowith, who corralled 20 board in an 18-point win over Texas A&M in January of 1998.
Could McCormack get to 20 in a single game this season? That’s a lot. And it would likely mean that the rest of his team grabbed just 15-20 boards combined.
The last two Kansas teams averaged 35.6 (2017-18) and 38.7 (2016-17) total rebounds per game. Although that stat might not matter quite as much because this year’s group, across the board, should be better defensively — think more misses to rebound — and should be a better rebounding team overall on both ends of the floor.
Because of that, it’s not impossible to think McCormack could have a 20-rebound night, particularly if he happens to find himself as the lone big on the floor with a lineup that wants to get out and run.
The last KU player to grab 20 rebounds or more was Jeff Withey, who came up with 20 boards in February of 2012 in a home win over Oklahoma State. That same season, a couple of months earlier, Thomas Robinson snagged 21 in a New Year’s Eve victory over North Dakota.
Eight of Robinson’s and six of Withey’s came on the offensive glass and it’s hard to envision McCormack getting to 20 without grabbing at least five or six of his team’s own misses.
Andrew Wiggins, then a freshman, grabbed 19 rebounds in a win over Iowa State in 2014, coming up one board short of tying Chenowith’s record.
Playing time will be the biggest key for McCormack and it was not an issue for any of the players mentioned above.
McCormack will need to play at least 20-25 minutes to have a shot at reaching 20 rebounds and I’m not sure how many 20- to 25-minute games McCormack will get this year.
But if he finds his way onto the floor for enough minutes and brings the same kind of focus to the game that he’s had during the summer, it’s not crazy to think that the ball could bounce his way enough times to join or replace Chenowith in the KU record book.
• Kansas Basketball Record Watch 2018-19 •