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Thursday, March 7, 2019

KU coach Bill Self says senior Lagerald Vick should be remembered ‘in a very favorable way’

Kansas guard Lagerald Vick is pictured on Media Day, Wednesday, Oct. 10, 2018 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas guard Lagerald Vick is pictured on Media Day, Wednesday, Oct. 10, 2018 at Allen Fieldhouse.

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While Saturday’s regular season finale against Baylor at Allen Fieldhouse will be the rare season-ender without a celebration of KU’s seniors, Kansas coach Bill Self took time in the days leading up to it to reflect on the lone senior on his 2018-19 roster.

Because a leave of absence took him back to his hometown of Memphis to tend to some personal matters four weeks ago, Lagerald Vick will not be in the building on Saturday.

It will mark just the second time in KU’s streak of 35 consecutive Senior Day victories — which started under Larry Brown in 1983-84 — that the Jayhawks will not have a senior address the home crowd. The 2006-07 season also finished without a single senior speech given at KU.

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Nick Krug

Kansas guard Lagerald Vick (24) puts up a three over Texas Tech guard Kyler Edwards (0) during the first half, Saturday, Feb. 2, 2019 at Allen Fieldhouse.

But Vick, with his play, did plenty to connect with the fans at Allen Fieldhouse over a 60-game span during his 3-plus year KU career. His record in KU's home gym during that stretch, which includes a 12-0 mark this season, was 56-4 and many of those victories helped lead Kansas to three Big 12 regular season titles.

“People should remember Lagerald in a very favorable way,” Self said Thursday at his regular weekly press conference. “No question. We won three (league titles) and won 10 games in the NCAA Tournament in (his first) three years. You know, there’s not too many players out there in the country who can say that. And he’s played a role in that and, certainly, he got better over time.”

Vick and the Jayhawks appeared to be on their way toward making it a fourth Big 12 title in four years — along with who knows what else — when they raced out to a 10-0 start to Vick’s senior season, with the 6-foot-5 guard leading the Big 12 in 3-point shooting and topping 27 points in four of the season’s first nine games.

Since then, however, the Jayhawks are just 12-8 overall and Vick has missed the past seven games because of his leave of absence. Kansas is 5-2 in those seven games without Vick and the Jayhawks have found a new way to play without him.

But those on the team who know him best said his absence on a day that should have belonged to him will make for a weird setting on Saturday.

“Lagerald’s a great friend of mine,” junior forward Mitch Lightfoot said. “I’ve known him for a while. He was kind of helpful for me when I got here, kind of showing me the ropes a little bit. We all know how much he means to us and how much he gave to the program and we’re real appreciative of him and we’re sad he can’t be here.”

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AP Photo/Charlie Riedel

Kansas guard Lagerald Vick (24) celebrates after making a shot during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Texas Monday, Jan. 14, 2019, in Lawrence, Kan. Kansas won 80-78. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

As for whether the absence of the Senior Day vibe — fans throwing flowers before the game, a speech and ceremony afterwards — will make Saturday’s 1 p.m. tipoff with Baylor seem more like any other regular season home game, Lightfoot admitted it would be different.

“We don’t get to have that senior speech that we (usually) have,” he said. “We’ve had some pretty good ones lately. Lando (Landen Lucas) and Frank (Mason), Devonte’ (Graham) and Svi (Mykhailiuk). Clay (Young). Tyler (Self). We’ve had some pretty good ones. So it’ll be different. It’s always a pretty emotional night, so I’m looking forward to seeing what the mood is and seeing the energy.”

Making matters even more interesting is the fact that Saturday’s finale falls during spring break and there’s a chance that Allen Fieldhouse will not have nearly as many KU students filling the student section as it typically does.

In thinking back on Vick’s career, which spanned 117 games in all, Self recalled a player who exceeded his ceiling.

To this point, the athletic and entertaining guard has posted career averages of 9.4 points and 3.5 rebounds on 40.5 percent shooting from 3-point range while becoming the 61st Jayhawk to eclipse the 1,000-point mark for his career.

“I actually think Lagerald became a lot better than what we envisioned when we recruited him,” Self said. “A lot better. And then after he got real good then my expectations changed and there were times where he did play to that very high level and there were times where he didn’t. But he’s certainly had his fair share of good moments for us.”

While away from the team, Vick has continued to take care of his academic responsibilities and next week is expected to complete an 8-week online class that was one of two classes he needed for graduation on his schedule for the spring semester.

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Kansas guard Lagerald Vick (2) spins to deliver a 360 jam on a breakaway during the second half, Thursday, March 23, 2017 at Sprint Center in Kansas City, Mo.

Such a schedule is set up well in advance for many of KU’s basketball players so they have as light a load as possible heading into March Madness.

Although he will not walk down KU's famed campanile hill at graduation until May, Vick’s ability to complete the requirements for his liberal arts degree will make him the first male in his family to graduate from college.

That accomplishment, as much as the clutch 3-pointers, the 360-degree dunk against Purdue in the 2017 NCAA Tournament or the wild and crazy sense of humor and style that Vick brought to practice and games throughout his time as a Jayhawk, is something that means a lot to Self, as well.

“He’s going through some stuff right now,” Self said this week, noting that he and Vick recently spoke. “I think he’s doing well and I think it’s good that he was able to take care of that and address it and he’s working through whatever personal things that he’s got going. I’m excited for him to be better, (whatever) that better is, and for him to take this as a foundation to still go on and do great things after he leaves here.”

As for whether there remained even the slightest chance that Vick still could return to the team before the end of the season, Self said the door was not closed completely.

“Considering the late date, you know, we’re going on a month (of him being away from the team), so there’s not a lot of time to come back and we’re pretty set in what we’re doing,” Self said. “But I’m not going to make that decision right now, today, because I don’t know. But I would say, with each passing day, it’s less likely.”

Comments

Dirk Medema 1 week, 2 days ago

He walks past a brick wall each day on his way to the office.

Marius Rowlanski 1 week, 3 days ago

Vick, it would be great for you to be there and not just for yourself. It may not have been the smoothest journey but I can't count the number of times over the years when your play was what made the difference.

Change your mind.

Creg Bohrer 1 week, 3 days ago

Once a Jayhawk always a Jayhawk.. Wish that you'd at least come back for this special night..

Bryce Landon 1 week, 3 days ago

None of us know what kind of personal problems LaGerald is attending to right now, and maybe we'll never know. All I can say is, these personal problems must be pretty serious for him not to come back for Senior Day - at least they'd better be.

Someday LaGerald will regret not coming back at least long enough to give a Senior Day speech. He's sat through three Senior Days, so surely he has to know how much it means to the fans to give the seniors one last hurrah before they graduate. It's one of the great traditions in Kansas basketball. I understand that he has problems back home to sort through - maybe not to the extent of Thomas Robinson back in 2011, but legitimately serious problems in any case - but he is doing himself a great disservice to not return long enough to receive the sendoff that KU seniors so richly deserve.

Dale Rogers 1 week, 3 days ago

Since Vick cannot be there, why not have a video tribute about his KU career shown during halftime? He deserves some kind of recognition. After all, he gave a lot to this team. He wasn't perfect, he had ups and downs, but he deserves recognition.

Dane Pratt 1 week, 2 days ago

Also hope the fans show their appreciation for the streak. Give the team a rousing standing ovation after the final buzzer.

Edward Daub 1 week, 3 days ago

KU Fans with compassion have to feel a bit Sick about Vick.

The good news is he continues to study and plans to complete the requirements for his college degree.

It would be super if he can attend the May graduation ceremony. Rock Chalk.

Andy Tweedy 1 week, 3 days ago

Living in Omaha, I got to see Vick first-hand and how much he cares. After beating Duke, he was the one running into the crowd, dancing to the music, getting his teammates into things. It didn't always seem like he cared from afar, but he clearly did. Hope he finds whatever he's looking for, man that dude could get ice hot at times!!! Gonna miss him!

Steve Quatrocky 1 week, 3 days ago

He was the much needed water wings our kiddies needed this year until they got used to being in the pool. Imagine what our non con record would have been without him. All things happen for a reason, Vick not getting any interest from the NBA last year, Self losing out on Romeo and having a scholarship available, and even his departure now that the kids are capable of developing their own leadership. He isnt why we lost the streak, shouldn't be a scapegoat on that at all as we wouldnt have had a shot at it without him. 3rd Place in the Big 12 isnt bad at all for a Rebuilding Year and lets face it, its the biggest remodel we've had since 05-06 thanks to Doke's injury and NCAA's punitive actions on Silvio, so that even our Experienced Guys are redshirts playing for the first time thru the Big 12 competition. Realistic Expectations were that eventually KU Math, where you subtract draft picks but still get better every year, wasnt going to work, especially with such a high standard set by our program.

Now is when we see how tough we are, the streak is gone, its over, they are "the guys", but that was only the first goal for this season, most teams in the nation right now are playing for the postseason, thats reality, and we already have the luxury of worrying about what our seed will be. That kept the most important streak alive, consecutive NCAA Appearances. Without Vick early, this could have been the year that streak got broken too.

Let's see how they come out against Baylor now that the conference race is over, do they give up, do they write the season off or do they take the opportunity to get better, do they take advantage of the opportunity to vindicate themselves in the Big 12 Tourney and go into the Big Dance a better team on a confident roll? Lot's of goals still remaining and lots of opportunity for success if they stay focused on developing the very young but very talented current roster.

Bee Bee 1 week, 3 days ago

L V did some good things for the program. Having said that, it s not that difficult. Go to class, practice, play games. That's it. A lot of people would trade what they have for that deal. Don't make it more difficult than what it is.

Tony Bandle 1 week, 2 days ago

Bee Bee, not to criticize your comment but only providing a different perspective, I spent five years at KU in the architectural program getting my degree, totally emotionally supported by my family, with no outside responsibilities, with great friends at Stephenson Scholarship Hall and a wonderful staff in Marvin Hall and yet it was damn hard. I think you may have under estimated a bit the stress that a Division One scholarship athlete deals with daily in conjunction with life as a student as well, much less what may be going on in their personal life.Just a thought.

Phil Leister 1 week, 2 days ago

And while you can admit it was still "damn hard" you didn't have to answer to anyone (media or online commentators) regarding any of your own personal issues. The same can't be said for a D1 basketball player at a place like KU. His personal issues are none of our GD business.

Titus Canby 1 week, 2 days ago

Ditto, Tony and Phil. Plus he's the first male in his family to graduate from college. That's nothing to sneeze at.

If I had the media following my every move when I was at KU... I might have never graduated. And I was a relatively good kid.

Ryan Zimmerman 1 week, 2 days ago

Despite all the 3s and dunks, this is one thing I'll remember about Vick and always wonder what he said to Huggins https://twitter.com/TroyMachir/status...

Jay Scott 1 week, 2 days ago

Vick is a polarizing figure. I'm not a fan. That said, he's a better citizen than the Twins were. There's no need to bash him. None of us are perfect.

Steve Zimmerman 1 week, 2 days ago

I don't have any to bash him but to remember his 3s and his floaters vs zone. I remember without him we couldn't have won last year's B12 tournament. Without him, we couldn't have beaten TT early in the season. There are so many games he came so fired up and scored 20s. As Creg said, once a Jayhawk, always a Jayhawk.. Rock Chalk!!!!!

David Howell 1 week, 2 days ago

LMAO ........... good point (maybe Ceiling should be Expectations)

Dirk Medema 1 week, 2 days ago

Ceilings are man made. Sometimes the sky is the limit.

Armen Kurdian 1 week, 2 days ago

Really nice comments by HCBS. I hope we hear from him soon...I hope it's not a substance abuse issue, I hope he comes through whatever it is with positivity & success.

DaNeille Dani Davis 1 week, 2 days ago

Whatever LV is going through has got to be huge. For him to not complete the season and miss any chance of making an NBA roster... I feel bad for him. I wish he could have hung in there and gone to the NBA but that doesn't seem likely now. He could have helped his family in a big way with the help of the NBA. Just hope his child is okay. Good luck LV. You will always be a Jayhawk.

Jay Scott 1 week, 2 days ago

What's keeping him from the NBA? He can still play ball in Europe also. He's got game.

Dwayne Mudd 1 week, 2 days ago

I imagine Lagerald was not exactly looking forward to getting up in front of 16,000 to public speak anyway. At least he got lots of practice during his time here and hopefully that pays some divedends in his life. Good Luck Legerald!!

Ken Stclair 6 days, 20 hours ago

I wish him well. But we are not getting anything even remotely close to the real story......A lot more to all of this and a "leave of absence" was likely a convenient label placed on the situation. Oh well he's gone and not coming back. A real shame for KU somewhat.....but mostly a shame for him and his possible future career.

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