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Originally published February 7, 2019 at 07:25p.m., updated February 7, 2019 at 08:32p.m.

Lagerald Vick taking ‘leave of absence’ from KU basketball team

Kansas guard Lagerald Vick (24) puts up a three over TCU forward JD Miller (15) during the first half, Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2019 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas guard Lagerald Vick (24) puts up a three over TCU forward JD Miller (15) during the first half, Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2019 at Allen Fieldhouse.

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The on-again, off-again Lagerald Vick experience for Kansas basketball has returned to the off position. This time for more than his play on the floor.

The lone senior on the 2018-19 Kansas basketball roster is taking what the Jayhawks are calling a “leave of absence,” from the team, effective immediately, KU coach Bill Self announced Thursday night.

“Lagerald has some personal matters that require attention and he will be taking a leave of absence from our team,” Self said in a press release. “During this time, we will respect Lagerald’s privacy. There is no timetable for his return.”

After opening the season as one of the hottest players in college basketball and consistently drawing praise from Self for his attitude and effort — “He’s been a 10,” Self was heard saying throughout the offseason and early portion of the current season — Vick fell off considerably in terms of both his production on the floor and his impact on the team.

It was always expected that his 60-plus percent shooting clip from 3-point range in the opening weeks of the season would level off and land closer to his career average of just over 40 percent. But since the start of Big 12 play, the senior from Memphis has shot just 45 percent from the field overall and struggled mightily with turnovers.

His 58 turnovers through 23 games lead the team and his 4-game stretch to open Big 12 play, when he averaged more than five turnovers per game, set the tone for the beginning of the drop-off.

Beyond that, his 19 minutes in a recent loss to Kansas State were a season low, only barely eclipsing his third-shortest outing of the season of 23 minutes, which came two games earlier after Vick was replaced in the starting lineup by freshman Ochai Agbaji in KU’s loss at Texas.

To date, Vick has made 20 starts in 23 games and still ranks second on the team in scoring at 14.1 points per game in 33 minutes a night.

Despite his dip in production and on-court issues that took him out of several of KU’s biggest games, Vick’s struggles reached a boiling point on Tuesday night in Manhattan, where he played just 4 minutes in the first half of KU’s 74-67 loss to the Wildcats and was benched by Self for the start of the second half in favor of reserve guard Charlie Moore.

Asked after the game if it was a lack of production that landed Vick on the bench, Self said simply, “No. There (were) other reasons.”

One reason appeared to be the way Vick interacted with his teammates during the loss to K-State. Although Self did not specifically single out Vick in his postgame meeting with reporters, the KU coach was critical of a sequence early in the game that seemed to involve Vick.

“Right when the game started, there were two easy switches that we’ve practiced the whole time that they get wide open shots,” Self bemoaned. “Then guys want to blame other people. That’s not how you win on the road.”

Asked on “Hawk Talk” if he thought Vick had done some soul-searching in the days since KU’s loss to K-State, Self paused before answering.

“Probably. Probably,” the KU coach said. “I’ll say this: Not being totally negative at all, he’s got some things going on that (aren’t) public things and he hasn’t been his best because of those things.”

And with that, a career marked by incredible highs — Vick set a school record for 3-point makes without a miss earlier this season, was a huge part of last season’s Final Four run and recently eclipsed the 1,000-point mark — and equally unbelievable lows — multiple benchings for off-the-court or attitude issues throughout his 4-year career and head-scratching plays on both ends of the floor throughout the current season — is suddenly in question with eight games remaining in the regular season.

There’s little doubt that this young Kansas team will miss Vick’s explosive potential, fearless attitude and big-game experience. But his inability to consistently stay plugged in and his propensity to disappear too often may not be missed.

“I don’t think it’s anything you go into,” said Self of Vick’s personal issues on “Hawk Talk” before Thursday’s news was released to the public. “But it’d be nice to have our full complement of everybody.”

With that said, Self once again referenced what has been a popular topic this season— talk by him or anyone else in KU blue of excuses for KU’s struggles.

“I’ve never bought into that, ‘We didn’t have him or this or that,’” Self explained. “You know, you still play. You still put five (players) out there. A lot of times when you don’t have somebody, the guy you put out there is actually better than the guy you had.”

According to Self, that was the case Tuesday night in Manhattan, during the first half of the Jayhawks’ loss to Kansas State.

“We were actually better,” Self said of his team’s performance after he benched Vick for the final 16-plus minutes of Tuesday’s first half. “We go from down 9 to going up 6. We were actually a better basketball team the last 15 minutes of that half.”

Without Vick, the Jayhawks, who opened the season loaded with depth and talent and ranked No. 1 in the Associated Press Top 25, are down to just eight healthy scholarship players, nine when injured sophomore Marcus Garrett returns to the lineup.

Self said Thursday night on “Hawk Talk” that Garrett was “doubtful” for Saturday’s 11 a.m. game against Oklahoma State at Allen Fieldhouse.

“He actually did get on the court again today and move around maybe at half speed or something like that,” Self said of Garrett. “He’s doing really well. But those high ankle sprains aren’t something you come back in a quick time frame.”

With Vick away from the team and Garrett still out, freshmen Devon Dotson, Ochai Agbaji and Quentin Grimes join sophomores Charlie Moore and K.J. Lawson to make up the current KU backcourt. Juniors Dedric Lawson and Mitch Lightfoot join freshman David McCormack to make up the Jayhawks’ front court.

Udoka Azubuike is injured. Silvio De Sousa is ineligible. And Vick is now gone, too.

That trio combined for 27 points and 21 rebounds in 86 minutes in KU’s Elite Eight victory over Duke last season. To have all of them return yet none of them currently available is, in many ways, the perfect microcosm of KU’s 2018-19 season.

Even with that, the Jayhawks (17-6 overall, 6-4 Big 12) remain in striking distance in the Big 12 race and their quest for a 15th consecutive conference crown.

KU is currently just a game and a half behind the first-place Wildcats (7-2), with Iowa State (7-3) and Baylor (6-3) also ahead of the Jayhawks in the current standings.

Both Baylor and Kansas State still come to Lawrence before the end of the regular season, and those two teams play each other in Waco, Texas, this weekend.

Comments

Brian Wilson 1 week ago

Looks like last year's demons might be back. Hopefully LV can put it all together and come back soon.

ITMT Coach, how about trying something different...maybe playing some zone, start McCormack and go big, and focus on offense, and reducing errors. Just an idea....RCJHKU

Greg Ledom 1 week ago

Wow Brian, I wish you were on the staff. We’d be so much better. I mean, did you see the game Tuesday? The zone and lots of it. Mac has potential but is a spaz and needs to SLOW down. Reducing errors? Yeah! quit turning the ball over players or Bill will make you stop! Just an idea. What do you think coach? Hell, give Brian a call,,,,,,

Brian Wilson 6 days, 5 hours ago

Wow Greg great observation, your so clever. Its great to see you that you have some ideas as well....oh what are they???, Dud.

But yes, we played some zone, without Mac! Mac played zero minutes.

Karen Mansfield-Stewart 1 week ago

Wow! I’m in shock. But then again, not really surprised. That’s too bad for Lagerald; and this team will probably miss his shooting ability. He finally reached the end of the road with Bill Self. Too bad.

Layne Pierce 1 week ago

Just one more terrible distraction. Hope Garrett gets back soon. We simply are running out of bodies.

Maybe it's time for Coach to play only 8 people, pick the 8 who don't make as many mistakes. Take charges, foul hard. Make free throws. Take the clock down, then drive and kick out.

Let Lawson play on outside as well as inside. Grimes needs to take 8 and 10 ft jumpshots at beginning of game, in the key. He should also try to set up Lawson and Dotson, and Agbaji.

Let's try some things like some zone and also a token press every once in awhile. Maybe even run some of the plays that Grimes ran in high school. Maybe it'll all kick in.???

RCJH

Marius Rowlanski 6 days, 21 hours ago

Maybe Miles has lined up some players who might fill in the line-up.

Matt Gauntt 1 week ago

"Personal Matters"

That doesn't mean coach is upset. That doesn't mean he is in trouble. That doesn't mean he's a distraction. It doesn't mean 100 things that you can think of.

Know what it does mean? It means none of your business. He's a young man. Coach asked for us to respect his privacy. How about being a fan instead of gossip. Let it go.

Dane Pratt 1 week ago

The ESPN article said his mother wants him home.

Bryce Landon 1 week ago

Well-said, Matt. LaGerald needs our support and understanding.

JD Roth 1 week ago

Nice post Matt! Appreciate you Sir. Rally around the team Hawk fans!

Brett McCabe 1 week ago

Thanks, Jesus. Without you, how would we all know how to behave? Literally....just shut the f up.

Len Shaffer 1 week ago

Let's see, Brett. Matt has 11 likes and you have 0. Perhaps it's YOU who needs to STFU.

Jay Scott 1 week ago

Brett is still getting therapy after the 2016 election....

Mike Hart 1 week ago

Leave Brett alone. He is still recovering from the David Beaty years. He is newly following Kansas again after a one year hiatus. In fact, LaGerald Vick's woes may be tied to Beaty in some way... ;)

Jay Scott 1 week ago

...or Vick's issues could be President Trump's fault...

Eric Bernauer 1 week ago

I'm curious Jay, why is it that you so frequently want to get into political bickering on this site? I'm sure a lot of fans on this site agree with your political leanings and a lot oppose, but what does it add to the discussion KUsports.com?

Jay Scott 1 week ago

Eric...do you have another example of this "frequently" occurring event? It's relevant with Brett because he used a Hillary campaign button as his avatar and ranted about it for months.

I'm sorry. Were you making fun of Brett already or was your question sincere in its stupidity?

Eric Bernauer 4 days, 15 hours ago

I guess your definition of frequently is probably any number of times you have done this plus one, therefore it hasn't been frequent. If Brett has interjected political attacks into sports commentary (simply using an avatar showing his support is not attacking anyone) it is inappropriate.

As for calling someone stupid for asking the reason for making political comments on a sports comment board, I wonder if you see the irony?

Jerry Walker 1 week ago

Self's comments were hardly a clarion call of support for Vick. He's been a ghost of J.R. Giddens his whole career.

Steve Quatrocky 1 week ago

Unfortunately, Quentin has been the ghost of Kenny Gregory so far. If he pulls out of it and plays like a 3, instead of a non existent 2, we still got a shot. Maybe its the role of a 2 he just hasn't figured out, similar to Selden who took 3 years to play to his ratings.

Steven Haag 1 week ago

Matt, 100% agree. He has a child, I think 5 years old. Trying to be a dad, deal with the mother, demanding practices, college classes. Lots of pressure. Could be an ailing parent....1,000 different things. I have never doubted for one minute that this young man doesn’t love KU. Let’s take a deep breath and pray for him, and let our hall of fame coach come up with a fix and strategy for this team during His absence.

Dane Pratt 1 week ago

And the hits keep coming. I don't remember a team with so much bad luck and misfortune in one season.

Bryce Landon 1 week ago

Wasn't the 1988 team beset with bad luck and misfortune? And how did that end?

Dane Pratt 1 week ago

Point taken but that team had Danny Manning. This team does not.

Steve Quatrocky 1 week ago

Actually, Dedric has the ability to put this team on his back like Danny used to, but going to have to get some outside shooting to take the double teams away.

Jay Scott 1 week ago

How easy was it to predict that the Chicken Littles and half wits would: 1) dump on Vick. 2) suggest that Mac is the answer

Steve Zimmerman 1 week ago

Common Jay, not all Chicken Littles don't know how to thank KU players..

Jeff Kallmeyer 1 week ago

Hmm, benched a significant amount of time the last two games...

Robert Brock 1 week ago

Good luck, Lagerald! I hope that we see you again. Someday.

Stuart Corder 1 week ago

Wish you the best, Vick! Your KU family is here for support.

Meanwhile, back in Lawrence, it appears fate has forced Coach Self’s 7 man rotation, 8 if/when Garrett returns.

Kevin Woods 1 week ago

Is KU tanking? I’m not sure that works in college.

Andy Godwin 1 week ago

"Addition by subtraction is a phrase used by coaches to mean that sometimes your team can get better not by adding more talent, but by shedding some people or practices that are interfering with or inhibiting your success." Self has taken the blame for the end of game mental errors that have contributed to several losses. As Self emphasizes, a game is won or loss based on a couple of key plays, and clearly, this team is not great at finishing. Hopefully, Vick will find his way in life and the KU basketball team will turn another page and re-invent themselves yet again. Dedric must lead the way.

Tony Bandle 1 week ago

Dok out for the year.

Silvio out for possibly his career.

LaGerald out and maybe gone.

KU coaching staff under investigation

Our best defensive player trying to recover from a very tough ankle injury, a high ankle sprain.

Our only competent big man being worn to a nub.

No one can shoot a three, no one can pass, no one can rebound, no one can consistently shoot a free throw.

KU makes more turn overs than Pillsbury.

At the halfway mark, two games behind Kansas State of all people - a team coached by Bruce Webber for Christ's sake.

Jay, maybe, just maybe, it is not totally out of the realm of possibility that the sky is falling even if just a little bit????

Len Shaffer 1 week ago

Well said, Tony.

My non-KU friend has asked me for years why I get into regular-season games because he says that for teams like KU, it's basically just an exhibition season until the playoffs begin.

But this year is different, and all of a sudden the regular season is becoming extremely important. I'm not quite at the panic point yet of wondering whether we might not even make the playoffs (although if we keep playing like we have been on the road, and given that the NCAA takes injuries into consideration, it's not beyond the realm of possibility), but even if we do make the playoffs, we may be heading towards something like a dreaded 8 or 9 seed. And as for the conference title, I'd say that at this point the odds are well under 50%.

Dane Pratt 1 week ago

I don’t want to say the sky is falling because Jay owns the rights to that phrase and I do not want to hear from his lawyers for copyright infringement. Let’s just say we are having a bad year by our standards which is a good year by most teams’ standards.

Is not winning the conference really that horrible?

Jay Scott 1 week ago

Any use of the terms "Chicken Littles' or "sky is falling" or any paraphrasing of any of the abundant Jay Scott wisdom contained herein whether in whole or in part is strictly fine with Jay.

Jay Scott 6 days, 19 hours ago

Jay Scott prefers the scientific term Poultrus Diminutae

David Howell 1 week ago

Good post Tony, but I almost skipped it because you didn't number your points like usual !

Everyone posting on here has at some point written something that sounds like coaching instruction, etc.

We are spoiled fans and now we tend to act like spoiled children. Natural process ......

This team is young, full of injuries, not much on fundamentals, and the NCAA has it in for the Jayhawk's. Plus I am sure the team is feeling the pressure. The streak ending could be the best thing moving forward.

Jeff Coffman 1 week ago

Lagerald, you are part of the Jayhawk family and will be missed as you take care of your mom and child. We hope you can return shortly, but are wishing your family well.

I think the Morris' twins with TRob, had the mantra FOE and that made the team stronger...we pray the same for you.

Rory Wendelin 1 week ago

If the sky falls, let it fall. We made a solid record so let someone else break it. The Big 12 is a torn up battlefield. Let's develop our bench and come back strong next year. These freshmen are in for some prime time experience.

Steve Zimmerman 1 week ago

Wishing you the best, Vick. Thanks for showing up this season. Hopefully, you'll get whatever it is you're searching. Rock Chalk!!

Len Shaffer 1 week ago

I echo those who wish Lagerald the best. I can't imagine the type of pressure that these guys are under, and I know that there's NO WAY I could have handled it at his age -- especially not when you add in the fact of him having a child.

Hopefully he can work out his personal issues and come back sometime this season. Imagine what a jolt of energy could be for the team.

Adam Bengtson 1 week ago

Let’s be honest. Kansas is 17-6 and has probably best overall wins on their resume. Putting in perspective KU actually has a chance to still win Big 12. Kansas State normally struggles here and rest of our games are bad or historically bad teams in Allen Fieldhouse. Tech only road game that looks hard, but Oklahoma and Oklahoma State are struggling, so if they can steal Tech or TCU weird things could happen. In some weird way I still think this team will just click. Worst case scenario this whole team comes back and all our freshman take major steps and comfortable next year.

Steve Quatrocky 1 week ago

If dealing with adversity is what toughens up a team, the table is certainly set to either deal with it or go home. Looks like LaLa made that decision for Lagerald already. I wish the kid the best and don't expect to ever see him again, on the court for KU or in the NBA. Taking a leave of absence in the middle of the conference season isn't going to look good on his resume. I suspect he will also get scapegoated as the reason the conference streak ends, even though there were two other big factors, Doke and Silvio, plus Garrett's injury too. Personnel issues happen and make the 14 yr streak even more impressive, I just don't want it to end. Time for a Team Meeting for sure, there is enough talent to form a "new" team and play for that name on the front of the jersey. Quentin, KJ, Charlie and Mitch, time to step up as the chips are down. We are now a Top 25 team, not a top 10 team, playing in a league with better opponents but it doesn't mean we can't reach down and win it again, but the odds arent good.

Steve Quatrocky 1 week ago

Vicks return and shooting had been papering over Quentin's lack of production, time for him to step up but still looks lost on D half the time. Step up on Defense and Effort and then Offense will come much easier.

Stuart Corder 1 week ago

I wish Vick the best and hope he can return as upbeat and positive as he was when he began the season. Another fresh start for the young man!

Dennis Strick 1 week ago

Well Coach Self, thank you for granting my wish of 48 hours ago on this blog. I think better days are ahead for your squad now that you have cut out the cancer that was eating at team chemistry. Mr. Vick as I said earlier checked out of KU last year. His over-bearing mom is probably the only reason he came back and the only reason Coach Self allowed it. I learned long ago as a mere rec soccer coach once you let the parents into the team huddle chaos ensues.

Mr. Vick was always aloof and goofy during media sessions to the point of awkward and embarrassing to himself and the team. Just watching is responses to questions made me cringe. He was only about being a team player when the team saw things his way. Maybe he will learn from this and grow up some and turn his life around. This is only college basketball for the record, but cannot be more glad he is gone even if it means giving up wins this year to have a better team next year and keep Coach Self's sanity in tact.

Jeff Kallmeyer 1 week ago

Well said! I think Vick has violated at least a couple of Self's mandates for letting him return to the team.

Barry Weiss 1 week ago

I hope things work out for LaGerald. As for the team, this is probably a 50/50 deal. There is as much of a chance we play better as that we do not. Just win baby.

[''] 1 week ago

Best post of the day -- we could now play BETTER without Vick. He is NOT a team player and plays crap D and is a turnover machine. Perhaps now Ochai plays even better, Grimes plays better, Garrett plays better all not having to defer to Vick getting his touches - and the TEAM gets better without Vick. This is addition by attrition. ONWARD!

Bee Bee 1 week ago

Dumpster fire. I m ready for the SPRING GAME.

Brad Watson 1 week ago

Now its time to get rolling...K-State has 2 games in Texas next....Baylor has Texas Tech next Sat...I-State goes to Manhattan next Sat....if we can hold serve at home and play our best basketball of the year in Fort Worth....by next Sunday....we very possibly could be in a good place.....but we need to focus...play Jerod Haase style basketball...getting all the 50/50 balls...crashing the offensive boards with multiple people...get those TIPS.....AND BOXING OUT WITH THE SMART ANGLES...and I think this team can get better and better...and in a month be a force...I think this team is going to take off now...but it will take extremely high energy to compensate for our shortcomings.....HUSTLE WINS AND HUSTLE TRAVELS....we have the very best coach in America leading us....I feel good about this team moving forward!

Chad Smith 1 week ago

You never want a kid to be struggling and dealing with off court issues. That is life though. All of us have tough moments and periods of time in our lives, the difference is we don't play for a prestigious basketball program and have the spotlight constantly on us.

Vick needs support and compassion from us as fans. Give him time to figure out what's going on outside of basketball and hopefully he can come back later and be a spark for us with leadership and consistency.

Right now, let's just hope Garrett comes back 100% and we can start playing better on the road. This is the lowest point of KU basketball I've seen in a long time. To be honest we're pretty spoiled. We'll still be in the tournament, We'll still probably have a decent seed. The season is not lost, it's just very rocky.

I've said this before and I'll say it again, as a person who lives in the twin cities and sees failure, letdown and constant frustration from Minnesota sports teams, I appreciate what KU has done over the past couple of decades. They are the one team I can rely on to be good and win the majority of the time. ROCK CHALK

Jason Venable 1 week ago

Geez. It's just keeps on getting better and better for this team. I keed.

Dale Koch 1 week ago

Glad he’s gone. We will play better. He’s been a huge distraction.

Jeff Coffman 1 week ago

We are undefeated at home and in neutral courts. AFH is the key to 15.

Glen Miller 6 days, 23 hours ago

Problem is we still have 4 road games and we're 2 games back....... I think it's time to appreciate the run we had and understand that it's most likely going to end this season. We've experienced an unprecedented season of departures, suspensions, injuries and WTF moments that until this season we've been able to avoid for the most part.

Jay Scott 6 days, 21 hours ago

I think it's time to watch each and every game this season to see what happens...just like each of the last 14 seasons.

Any other strategy is just nonsense.

[''] 1 week ago

Hypothetically....what if this is Lala's way of damage control for her son. Pull him from the team as they are tanking, as he is tanking, as his attitude is tanking, as his interactions with teammates are tanking and before it gets worse. That way perhaps NBA scouts would only reflect on his hot start and pts per game -- before that dwindles. Not saying that is what is happening but....possible?

Bj Cassady 6 days, 23 hours ago

I hope it works out for Vick. He is young and his whole life is ahead of him. His future could be formed by the next few months. As far as the team, we will win 20 games get into the NCAA Tourney be in the top tier of the Big 12 and that is not bad. Might as well use the rest of the season to develop our bench players, McCormack, Lightfoot, C Moore. We will need them as tournament time comes. Just play smart boys.

Paul Rupp 6 days, 22 hours ago

I'm in the camp of "adversity can sharpen the spear"...or something like like. Leadership, toughness, maturity...the raw will to win...have all been absent most of the year. Maybe it's "this" last punch that gets Rocky up off the mat and leads us to the super bowl....

Mixed metaphors are the best....

Best to Mr. Vick. Rock Chalk

Brad Watson 6 days, 22 hours ago

Very excited about the game tomorrow...11 am tip.....I think we are ready to take off...kind of like Kentucky a couple months ago...I think we are going to start playing very good basketball moving forward!...In a month....LOOK OUT!

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