Though Lagerald Vick had virtually no impact on the Champions Classic, the Jayhawks will need him to fill an important role this season.
Lagerald Vick is not going to be Bill Self’s leading scorer, his highest draft pick in 2019, or the most buzz-worthy player on the roster this year, despite having the athleticism and talent that led him to test his professional prospects as a junior. While no one is expecting him to fill the void like Devonte’ Graham did last year in replacing Frank Mason’s leadership, Vick is the the team’s lone senior and must elevate both his game and sense of accountability.
From a single game sample, it looks like Quentin Grimes is going to be the team’s sharpest shooter, Udoka Azubuike is set to continue to post one of the best field goal percentages in Division I, and Dedric Lawson will find ways to fill the box score whether its scoring, on the boards or getting his teammates involved. As for the rest of the roster, time will tell if Marcus Garrett improves in his second year, how Charlie Moore translates as a transfer, and who will step up in a reinforcement role for Azubuike.
College basketball may be predicated by recruiting classes and incoming talent, but it is a reliable veteran presence that steadies a team in tough conference stretches, hostile road environments and tournament play. During his time in Lawrence, Vick has had bursts of offensive success followed by incredibly quiet performances. In the first Big 12 game last season, Vick scored 21 points against the Longhorns, only to finish with one basket against the Red Raiders in the next game.
Though Bill Self will not be counting on Vick to score 20+ a night, he will look to his most tenured player to be a consistent force and on court leader for a young roster. When other players find themselves overwhelmed by the moment or slumping during a long season, Vick must help weather the storm as a senior with three Big 12 championships and a Final Four trip under his belt. As Kansas hosts an underwhelming opponent at home, tonight is the perfect opportunity for Vick to rebound after his struggles against Michigan State and have more of a presence.