For weeks, Bill Self had to watch what he said.
He expected that Lagerald Vick would become a member of Kansas’ 2015 recruiting class. That was always the plan. It was the reason the Jayhawks had pursued Vick, a shooting guard from Memphis, after he decommitted from SMU earlier this spring. It was the reason that Self and his staff had put so much emphasis on Vick’s official visit in mid May, hitting it off with Vick’s mother, La La, during the weekend trip to Lawrence.
Vick would verbally commit to Kansas on May 17, just days after the weekend visit. But still, Self had to remain quiet. Vick had pondered attending prep school next year. He had to wait on some academic paperwork. He had to make sure that re-classifying back to his original 2015 recruiting class was the right decision. And NCAA rules prohibited Self was speaking of Vick’s future.
“The whole thought with Lagerald was that he would reclassify and become a 2015 (signee),” Self said. “(But) we knew he’s talented enough that if he stayed a 2016, we’d wait on him.”
In the end, Self won’t have to wait another year to coach Vick at Kansas. On Tuesday afternoon, Vick ended the waiting game, signing an official grant-in-aid agreement and joining the Jayhawks’ 2015 recruiting class.
“We were cautious not to say too much, too soon,” Self said in a release announcing Vick’s signing. “He’s officially signed and a member of the 2015 recruiting class.”
With the addition of Vick, along with Monday’s signing of transfer big man Dwight Coleby of Mississippi, the Jayhawks have 13 scholarship players on the roster, the max for Division I men’s basketball programs. With the addition of Vick, the Jayhawks have added more depth to the perimeter and, according to Self, scooped up a high-level athlete with potential to grow into an impact player during his college career.
“Lagerald is a terrific athlete that is going to become a terrific basketball player,” Self said.
At 6-foot-5, Vick averaged 24.0 points, 8.0 rebounds and 5.2 assists per game as a senior at Douglass High in Memphis. He also excelled for the AAU program Team Thad, shooting up the national recruiting rankings while competing on the spring Under Armour circuit. Talent evaluators raved about his blend of size, athleticism and offensive efficiency. Kentucky coach John Calipari showed interest. Vick also visited K-State. Self won the recruiting battle.
“He’s got great size for a guard and has tremendous quickness and explosiveness for his size,” Self said. “We think he can be a guy that can get his own shot, but also force a lot of help by driving the ball and could be an elite defender in time.”
In the short term, Vick will enter a crowded situation in the backcourt, with returning guards Frank Mason, Wayne Selden and Devonte’ Graham expected to log plenty of minutes next season. The Jayhawks also have sophomore guard Svi Mykhailiuk and junior wing Brannen Greene returning, but Vick should get an opportunity to see some time this summer in the World University Games. Mykhailiuk, a native of Ukraine, is not eligible to play, while Greene will miss the tournament while recovering from offseason hip surgery. Kansas will also have the services of SMU guard Nic Moore during the tournament, but Vick will have a chance to impress.
“(He’s) a really good player offensively,” said Norton Hurd, who coached Vick for Team Thad on the spring and summer circuits. “He’s got to go in there, work his (butt) off. But talentwise, he’s got it. His second year, I can see him having a Ben McLemore-type year, and I see some Ben McLemore in his game.”
For Self, perhaps the comparisons can wait. On Tuesday, he was just happy he could finally talk about his newest shooting guard.
“Although we’ve only known Lagerald and his mother (La La) for a couple of months, we really connected on their visit to Lawrence,” Self said. “I not only think we’ll have a great time coaching Lagerald, but I think we’ll also have a lot of fun with mom being part of our family.”