Lagerald Vick put forth his best game in an already fabulous season, single-handily saving Kansas from disaster against Stanford. How sustainable is his amazing start?
The Jayhawks are 6-0, but had Vick not elected to pull his name out of the NBA Draft at the very end back in May, there’s no telling how this season would have gone thus far.
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Lagerald Vick has been unbelievable this year, averaging 21 points per game while shooting a ridiculous 60% from three-point range. Vick became the first college player this decade to shoot 65% or better over a stretch of at least 43 three-pointers, and every single make seemingly came at a pivotal time for Kansas in its narrow overtime clipping of Stanford this weekend. Without Vick, KU would undoubtedly have at least one loss, which should make Bill Self feel very fortunate that he elected to withdraw from the NBA Draft in May and come back for his senior year at the last minute.
Obviously, Vick isn’t going to shoot 60% from three for the entire season. His start to the season is ridiculous, albeit unsustainable. But what exactly is sustainable, and what should KU fans expect Vick to do throughout the rest of the year?
When Vick elected to return for his senior year, we talked about how the move was big for Kansas for two reasons: three-point shooting and senior leadership. Questions swirled about where this team was going to get its three-point shots from without Vick, and those concerns have been validated through six games. Vick has made significantly more threes (28) than the rest of the team combined (19). Vick shooting out of his mind has been critical for a team that can’t get anything else going from behind the arc, save for Quentin Grimes’ first half against Michigan State. Grimes, Devon Dotson, and Charlie Moore should all have a bigger impact on three-point shooting going forward, but Vick continuing to be a consistent force until that happens is critical. His pace will slow, but if Vick can end the year as a 40% three-point shooter, it would put him in an elite class that would fill one of the biggest otherwise holes on this team.
As far as senior leadership, it’s impossible to understate how important Vick’s impact on the rest of this team has been. Bill Self recently said that Vick has been a “10” in many things, but one of the specific areas he pointed out was the leadership that Vick has brought to KU. Against Michigan State, Tennessee, and Stanford, having a senior presence who has been on the floor in big moments before is critically important. Vick understands the pressure that comes in these moments, and having somebody who demands the ball in clutch moments is hard to come by in college basketball.
Prior to Lagerald Vick electing to return, everybody knew the 2018-19 Jayhawks were deep, talented, and balanced. The only two question marks about the roster were three-point shooting and senior leadership. Vick has filled those voids in ways that nobody could have anticipated, but he doesn’t have to continue his torrid pace to be the most important piece on this team. Eventually, the flow will pick up as guys develop chemistry, Grimes figures things out, Udoka Azubuike stops fouling 30 feet from the basket, and the rotation becomes more prominent. But as long as Vick is there to anchor the team by providing consistent three-point shooting and an ability to make plays happen at the end of close games, he’s more than doing his job on one of college basketball’s best teams.