A face-to-face meeting between Bill Self and Lagerald Vick led to the Kansas basketball coach offering the 6-foot-5 senior shooting guard a return to the Jayhawks’ team.
“He realized going through the process he has to do more things to get better," Self said Friday night in a phone conversation with The Star discussing Vick coming back to KU for a final campaign. "The thing that kind of sold me … he said he needed to do the things to help us get better, too.”
Vick and his mom met with Self last week in Vick's hometown of Memphis. And after speaking again on the phone with Vick about his expectations, Self extended the offer on Thursday for Vick to return. Vick had initially declared for the 2018 NBA Draft — after averaging 12.1 points per game his junior year at KU — but did not sign with an agent.
Vick ultimately withdrew his name from the draft and now will report to KU after the July 4 holiday for the second session of summer school.
“We talked about options and what he wanted,” Self said of a meeting in which “he (Vick) was great.”
“Obviously it (declaring for draft) didn’t go exactly the way he planned," Self said. "Three months ago he thought for sure that there would be more opportunities for him professionally. There still are opportunities, overseas and the G-League,” Self added, noting Vick had decided he wanted to play college ball one more season and embark on a pro career down the line.
“I honestly thought I played my last game at Kansas after the Final Four because, with my situation and my family’s situation (he has a daughter in Memphis), I felt I needed to turn pro,” Vick said Friday.
“After seeing where I stand and meeting with Coach Self, I feel it is best to return to Kansas for my senior year. Coach tells me the team is working hard and looking good. I can’t wait to get back to Lawrence and join them.”
Vick’s teammates played a huge role in his return, Self said, explaining, “We had a team meeting about what potentially could happen. We asked them what they thought. We all talked about it. They were supportive of him … totally.”
Vick — one of two returning starters off last year’s 31-8 Final Four team — will not have his starting spot given to him, Self told The Star.
“Lagerald has a lot of work ahead of him to have a similar role to what he’s had in the past because there’s so much more competition out there,” Self said, “He says he’s up to the challenge. Certainly we want to give him the opportunity.”
KU has a full allotment of 13 scholarship players. Guards are: Vick, Quentin Grimes, Charlie Moore, Devon Dotson, Marcus Garrett and Sam Cunliffe. Forwards are: Mitch Lightfoot, Udoka Azubuike, Dedric Lawson, Silvio De Sousa and David McCormack. K.J. Lawson and Ochai Agbaji are guard/forwards.
“We’ve got players at all spots. We’ve got depth, that’s for sure,” Self said. “We’ll see how it all plays out from a depth standpoint. We’re not going to play all 13 guys but certainly there will be more competition in practice than we’ve had in a long time.
“The minutes will work themselves out. That’s not a big concern. Nobody’s been promised minutes. It’s the guys that play the best will play. Lagerald will not be starting ahead of anybody nor will anybody else (start ahead of Vick). Whoever plays the best will play.”
Vick started 35 of 39 games last season. He hit 59 of 158 threes for 37.3 percent and could be seen as a valuable three-point weapon this season — one in which KU will be without Svi Mykhailiuk, Devonté Graham and Malik Newman, who hit 115, 110 and 85 threes, respectively, in 2017-18.
“He is a proven college shooter, there’s no question about that,” Self said of Vick.
Self obviously thought long and hard the past several days about bringing Vick back considering he believed Vick’s decision to leave (when he announced for the draft on April 6) was final.
“I told him I’d sleep on it. Certainly I did,” Self said. “I feel not only is it the best choice for him, but us. I did it with total support from all his teammates.”
Earlier in a news release Self had noted: “From my standpoint, it will be a bonus to have an experienced player like Lagerald in the mix. He has had an opportunity to think about the direction he is going in his life, and feels confident to return and improve his status.”
Of having 13 players on the 2018-19 roster, Self told The Star: “Yeah we have a full roster. There’s nobody else we could recruit this summer.”