Norton Hurd has watched and monitored LaGerald Vick for the last four years, before Vick was fielding calls from Kentucky coach John Calipari or taking college visits to Allen Fieldhouse.
Hurd, who coached Vick in the Memphis-based AAU program Team Thad, always wanted to tell college coaches that they were missing out on Vick, a 6-foot-5 shooting guard from Memphis, and that he was a supreme talent with the ability to play for one of the top college basketball programs in America. But in a way, Hurd said, he also wanted to keep quiet. Vick was his own secret, and Hurd didn’t want to put too much pressure on him.
“I wanted him to come into college regular,” Hurd said. “Like, ‘Who the hell is LaGerald Vick? We got a steal.’ ”
On Sunday evening, Kansas was the school that could feel as if it scored a possible late coup in the 2015 recruiting class. Vick committed to Kansas on Sunday after an official visit to Lawrence earlier this week.
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For now, it appears likely that Vick will join McDonald’s All-American forwards Carlton Bragg and Cheick Diallo in the Jayhawks’ 2015 recruiting class. But as of Sunday, Hurd said, it was not official that Vick would end up playing college basketball this fall.
Vick, who originally committed to SMU and head coach Larry Brown, had planned to spend the 2015-16 season at a prep school, developing his game and ironing out some academic questions. But after shoring up some of those academic issues, Hurd says there is a “good chance” that Vick will be at Kansas this fall.
“No official decision has been made,” Hurd said. “We made the hardest decision first — going on and making the college decision. His family and the Kansas coaching staff will be in contact and come up with a conclusion soon.”
Hurd compares his protege to former Kansas standout Ben McLemore, another athletic wing who wasn’t a McDonald’s All-American and also dealt with some academic questions out of high school. McLemore, who was a four-star recruit out of St. Louis, took an academic redshirt during his first year at Kansas before developing into an All-American candidate and lottery pick as a redshirt freshman. Hurd is hopeful that Vick will find himself on a similar trajectory at Kansas. And according to Hurd, Kansas’ coaching staff have echoed those sentiments.
“They think by his second year, he can do some Ben McLemore things,” Hurd said. “He’s got that in him.
“(He’s) a really good player offensively. 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.”
Vick visited Kansas on Wednesday and Thursday, just days after taking an official visit to Kansas State. Vick had also scheduled an official visit to Kentucky, but the KU staff left an impression on him during his trip to Lawrence.
"I like the system that Kansas runs,” Vick told Jerry Meyer of 24/7 Sports on Sunday. “I watched a couple of their games this year. Also, coach (Bill) Self kept it real with me. I enjoyed my visit, and I trust coach Self."
Before Vick’s commitment, Kansas had two available scholarships in the 2015 class. The KU staff is also still looking at a couple of transfer big men, including former Mizzou forward Jonathan Williams III.
If Vick, as expected, ends up at Kansas this season, he’ll provide a measure of depth for a backcourt with plenty of returning players. Junior guard Frank Mason, junior wing Wayne Selden and sophomore guard Devonte’ Graham all played substantial roles in the rotation last season. Junior wing Brannen Greene, meanwhile, is recovering from offseason hip surgery while sophomore wing Svi Mykhailiuk is a strong candidate to take a leap during his second season at Kansas.
Vick, though, could get a chance to get his feet wet this summer during the World University Games, where Kansas will represent the United States in South Korea in July. Greene (hip injury) will miss the tournament, while Mykhailiuk, a native of Ukraine, isn’t eligible to play for the United States.
For the moment, Vick is still somewhat under the radar. Hurd expects that will change soon enough.
“When he decommited from SMU, everybody (showed interest), and KU was one of the schools from the jump,” Hurd said. “He was tossing and turning (on the decision), but he felt like in the last 48 hours coach Self and his staff made him a priority.”