LAWRENCE – A week ago, Kansas coach Bill Self said he would likely add a guard to the roster to bolster numbers for the Jayhawks’ upcoming trip to the World University Games, where KU will represent the United States in South Korea.
That guard will be SMU senior Nic Moore, who has accepted an invitation to join KU’s Team USA roster for the international event from July 3-14 in Gwanju.
Moore, the reigning American Athletic Conference player of the year, is coached at SMU by former KU coach Larry Brown and former Self assistant Tim Jankovich, SMU’s associate head coach.
The Jayhawks were in need of an extra perimeter player when Brannen Greene was ruled out of the tournament after having offseason hip surgery. In addition, sophomore wing Svi Mykhailiuk, a native of Ukraine, is not eligible to represent the United States in international competition.
“We were down to only three perimeter players going into this last week,” Self said. “With the addition of a potential recruit, that would be four, so we (were) still a player short. With our relationship with Jank (Jankovich) and Coach Brown, they said if we needed anybody, they have a kid that would love to go, that kid being Nic.”
“We’re taking the (2015) American Athletic Conference Player of the Year. They do a lot of the same things we do so it will be an easy blend for our guys. That will give us Frank (Mason III), Devonte’ (Graham), Wayne (Selden, Jr.) and Nic (at the guard positions).”
And, yes, Kansas fans, before you get any ideas: Moore, a 5-foot-9 guard, will return to SMU for his senior season at the end of the tournament.
But first, his addition to the roster could offer some intriguing lineup combinations. Last season, as a redshirt junior, Moore led SMU in points per game (14.5), assists (5.1) and steals (1.3) as the Mustangs captured their first regular-season conference championship in 22 years.
On Thursday, Self hinted that Moore could play alongside both Mason and Graham in a small backcourt.
“Nic is one of the best guards in the country, period,” Self said. “He can play on the ball and off the ball. He’s little, so we’ll have three little guys running around there sometimes.”
For now, Kansas will have four guards on the roster for the World University Games. But Self hinted at having a “potential recruit” for the event as well. That recruit, it appears, is 6-foot-5 shooting guard LaGerald Vick, who committed to Kansas last weekend. Vick, a native of Memphis, is likely to join Kansas’ 2015 recruiting class, but Self has yet to announce his signing.
Vick, who is, coincidentally, a former SMU commit, had considered spending the 2015-16 season at a prep school. He would be eligible to play in the World University Games as long as he is enrolled in college classes this summer.
“We want to take another perimeter player,” Self said, “so we are going to wait and see if a recruit can take that fifth spot.”
Moore said that Brown and Jankovich came to him with the idea of joining Kansas for its trip to the World University Games.
“I’ve never been overseas to experience that,” Moore said, “but the opportunity to be able to play with a great program and to represent the USA, that’s a big accomplishment and feels great.”
Kansas, meanwhile, has five frontcourt players currently available for the trip to Korea. Incoming freshman big man Cheick Diallo, a native of Mali, will not be eligible to play, but the Jayhawks will have the services of Perry Ellis, Jamari Traylor, Hunter Mickelson, Landen Lucas and incoming freshman forward Carlton Bragg.
The Jayhawks will play two exhibition games at the Sprint Center (June 23 and June 26) in the leadup to the tournament.