He Will, He Won't, He Might: Lagerald Vick
Bill Self. Josh Jackson. Landen Lucas. Fran Fraschilla.
Coaches, teammates and analysts alike all have pointed to Kansas sophomore Lagerald Vick as one of the most impressive Jayhawks during the early going of the 2016-17 season.
Not only have the aforementioned people gone on record to say how impressed they have been by the improvement Vick has made in his game from the end of last season to the beginning of this season, but they also have been wowed by the way he has performed in practices so far this season.
A much more confident and comfortable player than at any time during his rookie season, Vick seems to be sitting on the brink of a pretty big job and a pretty great opportunity to go from end-of-the-bench afterthought to key component on a Top 5 team.
Whether that comes to fruition or not remains to be seen, but the hype and hope, excitement and expectations certainly are there.
In case you missed the earlier installments of this series, follow the links below:
Now, back to what to expect from Vick...
He will: Be a fixture in the regular rotation
This much is a given. And it remains to be seen whether it’s Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk or Vick who plays his way into the role of first guard off the bench and player KU coach Bill Self trusts the most to log big minutes during the 2016-17 season.
It’s possible it will be both and if it is it’ll likely be because of Svi’s experience (as well as his own maturation in the offseason) and Vick’s size, length and athleticism.
There’s a role out there for Vick to settle into and as much as most of the offseason talk has been about his improvement on the offensive end, I’m not so sure that the role he fills this season won’t be more heavily rooted in defense, where Vick can be a nightmare for opposing guards.
He won’t: Score the way he did this summer
Say what you will about Vick’s improvement – and plenty of people have been more than willing to discuss it during recent weeks — but it’s worth remembering that the sophomore guard from Memphis still has a long way to go before he becomes a high-volume scorer for the Jayhawks.
During a couple of summer camp scrimmages back in June, Vick got hot from the outside and poured in a whole bunch of points, scoring as many as 29 in one game. That was the first sign that he had developed a better shot and made some significant improvements in the offseason, but taking that to mean that he’s going to put up big numbers for the Jayhawks this season is a bit of a reach.
There still will be three, maybe four, players on the floor at all times when Vick’s in the game who will be better offensive options. In the backcourt alone, Frank Mason III, Devonte’ Graham and Josh Jackson all figure to push for double-figure averages, leaving Vick to average somewhere in the 4-6 points per game range.
He’ll have a few games where he’ll go for double digits himself, but he’ll also have a few in which he’s closer to scoreless than double digits. It will be important to remember that Vick’s statistics at the end of the season won’t necessarily indicate his importance to this team or the improvement he made in the offseason.
He might: Take a while to get comfortable
It might not be a wildly popular take, but it’s possible that all of the hype around the jump Vick has made this offseason might be setting him up for failure. At least initially.
No matter how much bigger, faster or stronger Vick has become and no matter how much he has improved his jumper, he’s still a very inexperienced player and could take a while to feel comfortable in his new role.
Doing it during practice is one thing, but doing it in front of 16,300 at Allen Fieldhouse or against Indiana in Hawaii or Duke in New York is something completely different.
This is not a knock on Vick. Enough people who know the game inside and out have said they’re impressed by the player he has become to make it seem like real progress has been made. But real progress or not, the emerging fan favorite still has some work to do to prove he’s completely comfortable when it counts the most.