Lagerald Vick will not return to Kansas basketball, head coach Bill Self announced on Monday. The scoring guard has been on personal leave since a Feb. 5 loss to Kansas State.
Vick had reportedly returned to his hometown of Memphis to help out with family issues.
Self had hinted that Vick may not be returning to the Jayhawks when he announced he would miss Senior Day last weekend. Here’s what Self told reporters at the time:
“Lagerald is not going to be back for the game Saturday. We have visited. He is not quite ready to come back. I shouldn’t say ‘not ready,’ that’s the wrong way to put it. He is still taking care of some things,” Self said. “He will not be there on Saturday. Obviously it’s getting late and we are going on one month that he would be out. The likelihood (of his return to team), even though it isn’t etched in stone, for every day that passes, the likelihood of him coming back is less and less.
“(His) attitude is good,” Self continued. “(He’s) certainly taking care of business. I think he’s handling everything very well, to be quite candid, without going into any detail, which I won’t. But certainly there’s not any negatives with how he’s handling anything at all.”
“Whenever he gets his stuff handled we’ll welcome him back,” Self told the Kansas City Star on Feb. 19.
Kansas originally thought it wouldn’t have Vick for this season at all. He declared for the NBA Draft after the Jayhawks lost in the Final Four last season, but withdrew his name and made a surprising return to school.
“The talk we had at the end of the season would be that he would go somewhere else if he decided to stay in school,” Self told ESPN in June. “That was something we talked about; we kind of agreed on that.”
His return appeared like it would pay huge dividends at first. Vick caught fire in November and December, going off for 27 points or more in four of Kansas’ first nine games. His offensive hot streak would end as conference play began, but he still averaged 14.1 points per game for the year.
Vick’s permanent departure is a critical blow to a Kansas team that is having a nightmare season by its own lofty standards. Kansas failed to win the Big 12 this season for the first time in 15 years in part due to a roster depleted by injuries and Vick’s prolonged absence.
The Jayhawks started the season as the No. 1 team in America in the AP Poll. While Kansas still enters the Big 12 tournament at 23-8 overall, the team has failed to live up to expectations. A season-ending injury to star center Udoka Azubuike nine games into the season changed the course of the campaign.
Kansas has turned to freshman Ochai Agbaji in Vick’s absence, who was originally supposed to redshirt. He has been one of the team’s top contributors, averaging 9.2 points per game since joining the team.
Kansas has gone 6-2 without Vick in the lineup this season. The Jayhawks open the Big 12 tournament against Texas on Thursday.