Lagerald Vick went to work on his rebounding after grabbing just two boards in 36 minutes against Missouri in an Oct. 22 exhibition at the Sprint Center.
“I do little drills by myself, throw the ball up off the backboard and jump as high as I can, run outside the three-point line and chase the ball down,” said Vick, Kansas’ ultra-athletic 6-foot-5 junior wing from Memphis, Tenn.
Extra time in the gym appeared to pay off on Tuesday night in an exhibition against Division II Pittsburg State. Vick had 11 rebounds in 26 minutes in the Jayhawks’ 100-54 victory over the Gorillas.
“It’s going to be a huge factor in my game — crashing the boards,” Vick said.
Vick averaged 3.5 rebounds a game as a sophomore. He had a career-high nine boards against UNC Asheville, eight versus Oklahoma and six against TCU and Baylor. However, he slumped to just one or two boards in eight of KU’s Big 12 contests.
“He can be our best offensive rebounder without question,” KU coach Bill Self said of Vick, who had five offensive rebounds Tuesday, including two spectacular dunks off teammates’ misses.
“The thing about it is you’ve got to go (to the boards) every time and have the ball bounce right before you get conditioned to go every time. We got lucky a couple times. The ball bounced just right. If you go five out of 10 times or six out of 10 times, you will definitely steal your team a couple more points. He had six points on offensive putbacks.”
Vick — he scored 15 points against Pitt State and 13 in a six-point win over Mizzou — has made 2 of 9 threes in the first two exhibitions after hitting 34 of 92 threes for 37 percent and averaging 7.4 points a game his sophomore campaign.
But way more than offense … “Coach always emphasizes defense and rebounding,” said Vick, eager to please his coach of late.
“Absolutely we’ll show that to our guys,” Self said of Vick improving his rebound total by nine in just nine days between exhibition games. “Marcus Garrett and Svi (Mykhailiuk) need to be doing more of that.”
Garrett, a 6-5 freshman from Dallas, scored seven points (7 of 8 from the free-throw line) with five rebounds, three assists, three turnovers and a steal in 30 minutes against Pitt State. He had four points, four rebounds, two assists, a turnover and a steal in 20 minutes versus Mizzou. Garrett and Billy Preston started the second half versus Pitt State in place of regular starters Malik Newman and Mykhailiuk.
“I thought he (Garrett) did well. I started him the second half. I thought he and Lagerald were the most active guys we had,” Self said. “I think Marcus is going to be a good player. He gets his hands on a lot of balls. That’s what he does. He won’t be a guy who averages double figures as a freshman. He can be a guy who can steal us a lot of extra possessions.”
Mykhailiuk, a 6-8 senior from Ukraine, scored 18 points on 6-of-13 shooting (3 of 7 from three), with three rebounds and two steals in 22 minutes against Pitt State and two points on 1-of-4 shooting (0 for 2 on threes), with three boards, two assists and two steals in 27 minutes versus Mizzou.
“He can shoot the ball. He needs to stay aggressive shooting the ball,” Self said of Mykhailiuk. “I still think he can be a lot more aggressive and a better passer. He had Malik (Newman) on an easy 2-on-1 play. All he had to do is take a dribble, make the defense collapse and pitch ahead for three. He throws it into their guy and it goes out of bounds. He is a better ballhandler and passer than what he’s shown. He can be a better playmaker for us, too.”
Coaches on road
KU’s coaches were to visit high school recruiting targets Zion Williamson and Romeo Langford on Wednesday. Williamson, a 6-6 senior from Spartanburg (S.C.) Day School, was also to meet with coaches from Duke on Wednesday, according to Zagsblog.com. Kentucky and Clemson visited Williamson, Rivals.com’s No. 2-ranked player in the recruiting Class of 2018, on Tuesday. Langford, a 6-4 senior from New Albany (Ind.) High School, is ranked No. 6 nationally by Rivals.com. He’s considering KU, Indiana, North Carolina, UCLA and Vanderbilt.