Vick's return crowds populated KU roster

By Steve Sell
July 10, 2018

The recent announcement that Lagerald Vick would be returning for his senior basketball season at Kansas raised more than a few eyebrows.

Vick had entered his name into the NBA draft, but later withdrew it. He never signed with an agent, which left the door open for his return.

Vick, though, reportedly had earlier indicated he would not come back to the team and go elsewhere. There have been various reports that Self and Vick were not on the same page during his career and was considered gone after last season. His jersey No. 2 was even given to newcomer Charlie Moore, who redshirted last year after transferring from Cal.

Vick is a career 38-percent 3-point shooter, which is something the team needs as the rest of the roster appears to be shy on outside shooting after relying on the 3-ball so much the last two years.

Vick’s return crowds an already populated KU roster. Self has as many as 13 players who probably believe they are worthy of heavy minutes on the court. My guess is that a player, or even two, could find himself redshirted since KU will lose a number of players after the season.

Here's a breakdown:

• Bigs — After relying mostly on Udoka Azubuike the last two years, the Jayhawks will have an embarrassment of riches.

Azubuike made all Jayhawk fans joyous when he announced he would be returning for his junior year. Even after two years, he's still raw in a lot of areas of his game, but he gives KU a great starting point.

If Silvio De Sousa isn't sidelined by the NCAA, which is still looking into his recruitment, he gives KU another big, bruising body. He was overmatched during the early part of last season after joining the Jayhawks in December, but by March he was starting to figure it out and will be more comfortable this time around.

The key newcomer is redshirt Dedric Lawson, who averaged nearly 20 points at Memphis two years ago. He's 6-9 and 235 and reportedly has some perimeter skills. Don't be surprised if he tops the team in scoring.

Then there's massive McDonald's All-American David McCormack, a chiseled 260-pounder who will be able to go up against Azubuike day after day in practice.

Mitch Lightfoot returns as well after being the top sub off the bench, but he possibly could redshirt. It's hard, though, to imagine somebody who has played solid minutes for two years sitting out, but he also has to look at the possibility of several players leaving after next year.

• Wings-Forwards — Vick is now the focal point. He's a proven player and his 3-point shooting is a must. He also can guard, it's all going to depend on how he and Self co-exist.

K.J. Lawson is the brother of Dedric and he's more than just part of a package deal. He's 6-8 and long and there should be little falloff when he comes off the bench.

Marcus Garrett had a so-so freshman year, showing that he could defend, but couldn't shoot. There have been several reports that he spent all summer retooling his shot so he's not a liability.

Quentin Grimes is KU's most heralded newcomer and a possible one-and-done player. He could very well start from Day One as he is loaded with talent.

Sam Cunliffe became eligible in December after transferring from Arizona State, but he never fit in and you have to wonder if he'll be in the rotation. I wouldn't be surprised if he looks to transfer to a Division II school since he's already sat out one year.

Ochai Agbaji was a late KU signee and would be the most likely candidate to redshirt. He's regarded as a late bloomer and teams didn't get in on him until late and KU got the jump and offered. He's said to be in the mold of a Travis Releford, who had a pretty good Jayhawk career.

• Point Guard — Moore and McDonald's All-American freshman Devon Dotson figure to battle it out. Moore certainly has the experience to run the team, but Dotson — according to Sunday's Lawrence Journal World — has caused heads to turn with his speed. My guess is Moore will start early just because he's been there longer. 

That's 13 players that Self has to find minutes for if nobody redshirts. I have a feeling KU's season is going to be as much about chemistry as it is talent.