Lagerald Vick, who played sparingly as a freshman at Kansas, appears to have made some major strides last summer into the fall.
The 6-foot-5 sophomore guard from Memphis, Tenn, …
▪ Scored 29 and 23 points respectively in a pair of Bill Self camp games in June.
▪ Was praised publicly by KU coach Self for his effort during the squad’s Boot Camp conditioning program in September.
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▪ Tallied 12 points in a 20-minute Late Night in the Phog scrimmage Oct. 1 and had the play of the night — an over-the-head backward dunk off an alley-oop feed from Frank Mason.
▪ Along with Carlton Bragg was called one of KU’s most improved players by Self on Jon Rothstein’s Oct. 11 sports podcast for Compass Media.
▪ Was cited as a much improved player by Fran Fraschilla after the ESPN analyst watched a pair of practices last week.
None of those things guarantees Vick one extra minute of playing time in 2016-17 — he averaged 4.8 minutes per game in 19 games as a freshman — but they do classify as signs that he’s pointing in the right direction.
“I am proud of myself,” Vick said, “but I still have some work to do. I am working to bring the team energy every day.”
Vick — he averaged 2.1 points per game off 56 percent shooting last season — said his improvement offensively has come from “shooting the ball, taking 1,000 jumpers a day, not taking any off days in the summer and just working and working.”
He remains committed to his work on defense.
“I need to be a lock-down defender and energy guy, completing assignments coach gives me,” he said.
Vick is battling several Jayhawks for playing time on the perimeter. Josh Jackson is expected to join Frank Mason and Devonté Graham in a three-guard starting lineup with Carlton Bragg and Landen Lucas manning the frontcourt. Vick and Svi Mykhailiuk are expected to provide firepower off the bench at guard.
“You could play four guards,” Self said. “I see us playing small quite a bit. And it’s really not small, Josh is 6-8 and we’re not going to play him as a forward, we’re still going to play him as a guard, but I think we’d be a hard team to guard if you can spread the floor with four guards out there.”
Self sounds as if he’s not afraid to use Vick extensively.
“Lagerald Vick and Carlton Bragg both had great springs, summers and falls,” Self said. “Lagerald hardly played at all last year, and I think he’s got a chance to be a terrific college player. He is freakishly athletic, looks like a greyhound out on the court. He moves gracefully, has improved his stroke. He has a chance to impact our team in a big way this year. He’s probably as improved as any player on our team.”
Vick entered college as Rivals.com’s No. 33-rated player in the recruiting Class of 2015 out of Memphis’ Douglass High where he averaged 27.0 points and 11.0 rebounds a game his senior year.
“In high school it was kind of all about me, so coming here the change is that you’re playing with a lot of good players. Just little things,” Vick said.
He didn’t mention himself when asked, “what will surprise people about KU’s team this year?”
“The leadership from Frank. He and Devonté stepping up, taking responsibility and teaching the freshmen. Sometimes he (Frank) is vocal and sometimes he’s active,” Vick said.
Releford to play in Poland
Former KU guard Travis Releford has signed with Siarka Tarnobrzeg of the Polish League, the team reported on Twitter.
Releford, 26, averaged 16.5 points and 4.2 rebounds in 12 games last season for the Niagara River Lions in the Canadian League.
He also played for the Helsinki Seagulls in Finland and averaged 9.9 points and 4.9 boards in seven games.
Graham candidate for West Award
Kansas junior Devonté Graham has been named one of 20 candidates for the 2017 Jerry West Shooting Guard of the Year Award, the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame announced Tuesday.
No other player in the Big 12 Conference made the list.
The other candidates are: Allonzo Trier, Arizona; Dusty Hannahs, Arkansas; Nick Emery, BYU; Jacob Evans, Cincinnati; Charles Cooke, Dayton; Grayson Allen, Duke; Jordan Matthews, Gonzaga; Malcolm Hill, Illinois; James Blackmon, Indiana; Peter Jok, Iowa; Malik Monk, Kentucky; Antonio Blakeney, LSU; Donovan Mitchell, Louisville; Eron Harris, Michigan State; Elijah Brown, New Mexico; Tyler Dorsey, Oregon; E.C. Matthews, Rhode Island; Shake Milton, SMU; and Isaac Hamilton, UCLA.
The award will be presented at the ESPN College Basketball Awards Show on April 7 in Los Angeles.
Waters to pick school Wednesday
Tremont Waters, a 5-11 senior point guard from Notre Dame High in West Haven, Conn., will announce his college choice at 3 p.m., Wednesday, according to the New Haven Register.
Waters, who is ranked No. 36 in the recruiting Class of 2017 according to Rivals.com, has made official visits to KU, Indiana, Kentucky and Georgetown. Duke, Yale and UConn have also been on his list.
Waters’ dad, Ed Waters, told the paper the list had been cut to four, but he would not identify the four schools.
ESPN’s Jeff Goodman on Tuesday wrote on Twitter: “All signs pointing to Georgetown for the talented point guard.” Indiana was the choice of a majority of 247Sports.com analysts as of Tuesday night.
Vitale picks KU fourth in country
ESPN’s Dick Vitale ranks KU No. 4 in his preseason poll, released on Tuesday. Duke is first, followed by Kentucky and Villanova.
Ward is recovering
KU associate athletic director Scott Ward, who suffered a tear in his aorta and had heart surgery on Oct. 7, continues to recover at University of Kansas Hospital.
Ward’s wife, Robin, posted on Facebook on Tuesday that her husband had his first cardiac rehab session at the hospital. He has been out of intensive care for several days now.