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Kansas, not Kentucky, could be preseason No. 1 thanks to surprising return

Kansas junior Lagerald Vick talks to head coach Bill Self during a game this season. The school announced Friday, June 29, 2018 that the 6-foot-5 guard will return to school for his senior season.
Kansas junior Lagerald Vick talks to head coach Bill Self during a game this season. The school announced Friday, June 29, 2018 that the 6-foot-5 guard will return to school for his senior season. Kansas City Star/McClatchy

In case you missed it, some important college basketball news was made Friday night that could affect whether Kentucky will start next season No. 1 in the polls. (If that matters, of course.)

Kansas released a statement saying that Lagerald Vick will be returning to school for his senior season, after all.

The 6-foot-5 guard had announced three months ago that he was leaving school to pursue a professional career, either in the NBA or overseas. Vick did not sign with an agent and withdrew from the draft, but was still expected to play overseas until Friday's announcement.

He started 35 of 39 games last season and averaged 12.1 points and 4.8 rebounds for the Jayhawks, who reached the Final Four before losing to eventual champion Villanova.

“He realized going through the process he has to do more things to get better," Kansas Coach Bill Self told Gary Bedore of the Kansas City Star on Friday. "The thing that kind of sold me … he said he needed to do the things to help us get better, too.”

Kansas was already expected to have a powerhouse team next season, thanks to the return of center Udoka Azubuike and the additions of transfers Devon Dotson and Dedric Lawson along with freshman guard Quentin Grimes.

News of Vick's return caused several college basketball analysts to either declare or confirm the Jayhawks as the new favorites to win the 2018-19 title.

"Lagerald Vick has decided to return to Kansas for his senior season. The loaded Jayhawks are now deeper and better. Right there with Kentucky for preseason No. 1," tweeted CBS Sports' Gary Parrish.

"With the return of Lagerald Vick, Kansas remains number one in the FanRagSports Preseason Top 25," tweeted Jon Rothstein.

Jeff Goodman tweeted: "Lagerald Vick is returning to Kansas after flirting with decision to go pro. Would have had to sit for a year if he had transferred. We'll see if his return is a good thing for KU — which has no shortage of talent. Will likely see a decreased role in Lawrence."

[Sportsbook makes Kentucky favorite to win 2018-19 national title]

As Bedore reports, "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."

Self is confident the minutes "will work themselves out."

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