Then & Now: Derrick Vick
Compiled By Dave Brandon
(Photo Courtesy NU Media Relations)
Derrick Vick played at Nebraska
from 1987-1988, and led the Huskers in blocked shots
both seasons, along with field goal percentage in 1987
and rebounds in 1988. Vick is also among the Top 60
scorers (703 points) in NU history.
The 6’6” forward played a key part
in Nebraska’s 1987 3rd place NIT finish, as
he was named to the All-NIT team after leading the team
in scoring (17.0 PPG) and rebounding (7.6 RPG) in the
five game tournament.
Vick is our latest guest in this
Sunday’s edition of “Then & Now.”
HHC: You went to
Corliss High School in Chicago, where you were named one
of the top 25 players in the Chicago area as a senior in
1984. After that, you started your career at Hutchinson
(KS.) Community College, where you became teammates with
former Husker guard Henry T. Buchanan and forward Pete
Manning, while also playing for former Husker assistant
coach Gary Bargen. Before we talk more about the
Nebraska connection there, tell us which Division One
schools recruited you out of high school, and what made
you end up at Hutchinson?
DV: Originally, Kansas was recruiting me
out of high school, but my grades weren’t up to par. I
had Kansas, Illinois State, and I want to say San Diego
and Minnesota on my list, but I think that was out of
Junior College. But, those were the main two out of high
school (Kansas and Illinois State), although I know
there were others that I couldn’t name now. Nebraska
though did not, at least not out of high school. But I
know I took a visit to Kansas, but since my grades
weren’t good enough, I had to go to JUCO.
HHC: What did you learn from Coach Bargen
while at Hutchinson, and how would you describe him as a
man and coach?
DV: Coach Bargen is a great X’s and O’s
coach, and a good motivator. He teaches fundamentals of
the game, and he preaches team and defense. I definitely
enjoyed the two years we had down there, and he’s a
great team coach. He coaches to the talent of his
players with the system he used. There are not enough
good things to say about him.
I never regretted playing for him
at all; I just thoroughly enjoyed my time there. His
style of play and the way he teaches the game, he’s hard
on everyone, but that’s only because he wants the best
for everyone. And, he expected you to be a student first
and athlete second.
HHC: Henry T. Buchanan told us that you
and him decided to go D-1 together as a tandem. What
made Nebraska your choice?
DV: I fell in love with the facility and
the academic environment that they had for support. In
the Big 8, I was going to a good conference, and it was
very competitive. And that led to my decision to come
I wouldn’t say Henry and I were
totally as a package, because I was also thinking about
Kansas State, South Carolina, Minnesota, San Diego
State, and Houston. But, I never took all the visits.
And at the time I visited Nebraska, I just decided to
make that commitment. I think I verbally made the
commitment there, but didn’t do the papers until I came
HHC: We understand that Coach Larry Brown
at Kansas had a good relationship with you. Any regrets
about not ending up in Lawrence?
DV: Well, you know, out of high school
they recruited me. But he didn’t pursue me after that. I
kind of wish I did have the grades at that time to be at
KU, because they were a very talented team, and I love
the challenge. And it would have been interesting to
challenge myself for playing time at a program of that
stature at the time. And, they still are, but in terms
of the Big 8, they were cream of the crop, because
between Kansas and Oklahoma, they were normally sitting
at the top every year.
So, regretting not having grades,
yes I do regret that, I wish I had gotten better grades
early on in my high school career because I didn’t start
playing basketball until I was a sophomore, at least
competitively. I really had no interest in high school
basketball at the beginning, but I was convinced by a
neighborhood friend of mine, Larry Harris, to go out and
try out for the team, because I was better than anybody
they had out on the playgrounds, in his opinion.
HHC: You were at Nebraska for Danny Nee’s
first season in 1986-1987, and you guys finished third
in the NIT at New York’s Madison Square Garden after
compiling a record of 21-12. Before we talk more about
that season, talk about your relationship with Coach
Nee, both during your times at Nebraska and after?
DV: My relationship with Coach Nee was up
and down. You know, the first year was okay. My senior
year was not that good. I mean, me and him had battles
the entire season, and I really never played up to my
full potential my senior year. My junior year, I played
But my relationship with him was
still more professional, and afterwards, it really
wasn’t much of a relationship, because he never helped
us further our careers, whether it be basketball or
anything. Year after you were done, you were done, and
there wasn’t much help with anything else.
HHC: When was the
last time you talked to him?
DV: Oh, last time I talked to him, was
probably a year or two before he left. I never really
did come around the program too many times. I mean, I
never had any bad or mixed words with him after the
fact, but it was more of just a “Hey, how you doing,”
type of thing. And that was the extent of it afterwards.
It was never “Hey, help me do this,
or guide me.” Outside of getting us to get degrees, that
was about it.
HHC: Can you give us a colorful Danny Nee
story or two to add to our ongoing collection?
DV: Oh, well how about the time he kicked
me out of practice for three days, have you heard about
HHC: No, but please
DV: Oh, that was my
senior year, and we had a confrontation at the beginning
of the year, about me and my position on the team and
where I was going to be playing. And he permanently
wanted to play me at the 4, and I was not totally
agreeing with him. I was like, “Okay, I’ll play a
little, but I need to play the wing as well.” I didn’t
want my back to the basket the whole time.
But that’s how it got started, and
he kicked me out. I’m trying to think if that was the
actual first day of practice, or the second.
HHC: How’d you get
DV: Oh, eventually, I think it was Henry
T., and he told me that I needed to come back and do
what he says, and play the position he said. And that’s
what I eventually did, but I think I was gone for a
couple of days. And we really didn’t have any
communication to iron it out, really, it was just,
“Okay, I’m back, I’ll play your style.” He wasn’t happy,
so I was never happy that senior year. It’s not that I
didn’t want to play power forward, it’s just that I
needed to play other positions if I wanted to further my
HHC: As we mentioned, you guys went deep
into the NIT that year, but before we talk about that,
we want to hear what you remember about making the
buzzer beating, game winning layup that you made against
Kansas. The shot was in overtime, and ended a four-year
time frame of not defeating the Jayhawks. Walk us
through what you remember about that play and game?
DV: Oh, that was a very good game. Dude, I
definitely remember most of that game. That game, I
didn’t score as much if I recall. One, they had Danny
Manning guarding me, which is a tough guy to get around
and shoot over, since he was so agile at that time. He
didn’t have any knee problems back then.
But about that play and that game,
it was a back and forth and tight game the entire time
it was played, and I remember that last play. It was
designed to go to Bernard (Day) or a drive by one of the
guards or pull up and shoot the ball - it wasn’t
designed for me specifically.
But I think Henry T. got the ball
on the left side of the court and drove to the middle.
And Manning was guarding me, and he pulled up to help on
Henry, and by doing that, I snuck right behind to the
basket and got the pass, which I knew would come. And
the rest, as they say, was “history” on that layup.
That was one memorable moment, and
I don’t have any film of it, although I wish I did. But
that was an incredible feeling, because I think Kansas
was in the Top 5 at that time when we knocked them off.
That was especially nice since I never got recruited to
KU after my high school career, even though I was an
honorable mention Junior College All-American, so that
was sweet to hit that.
HHC: And talk about your memories of the
NIT and playing in New York City, especially since you
were an All-NIT selection and led the team in scoring
and rebounding for the tournament?
DV: That tournament...that was an
incredible feeling to be able to go to New York and play
in Madison Square Garden, the Knicks home court. We were
very competitive, and only lost the first game by three
or four points. It was a competitive game back and forth
throughout. Being able to play in front of a crowd of
that size, and knowing that you’re on national
television, since its only one of the few games
remaining. Knowing everyone’s watching, knowing you’re
representing your program and being able to get them
some exposure, it was a great feeling, and also, so was
being able to play well.
Being able to play under pressure
was great. I’m not afraid of pressure, and that’s one
thing that’s always been true. I just wish we could have
filled it and won the entire tournament, but the ball
didn’t bounce that way.
HHC: Talk about some
of your teammates from that first year, especially guys
like Brian Carr and Bill Jackman?
DV: Brian Carr was a great player. He
wasn’t a selfish player, and he ran the offense and was
a great point guard. He made sure everyone was where
they were supposed to be. He distributed the ball, and
took his shots as well, which he was supposed to since
he was a great outside threat. He was a really heady
point guard, and I enjoyed playing just that one-year
Bill Jackman was a workhorse - he
gave it his all in practice and in the games. He may not
have been as talented as some of the big men in our
league, as just about each school in the Big 8 had
someone big who was real good. But, he played up to his
capabilities and then some – he always gave 110% on both
ends of the court. I enjoyed playing with him as well,
and I always thought that Bill, or as we called him,
“Bill the Mayor,” could have won it, because he was that
popular. He came from Grant, but he was an extremely
popular guy who went to Duke and came back. He would
have fit well in Duke’s system too, just with the way
they utilize the big man, because he could face the
basket and pull up for a jump shot, and that’s the kind
of big man that Duke likes to have.
HHC: 1987-1988 proved
to be a tough season, as you and Henry were the only two
starters back, and Coach Nee was building for the
future. As a team, you guys finished just 13-18,
although a highlight of the season was again defeating
(eventual National Champion) Kansas on a Beau Reid
buzzer-beater. Is that what sticks out about that season
DV: As far as good memories, yes. There
again, that was a heck of a game, and Beau Reid made a
great shot, right by our bench. Yeah, that was one of
the things that stuck out in what was otherwise an
uncomfortable year for me, because I was pretty much
disgruntled the whole year. And even though I played, I
look back and I don’t think I played to my full
potential. I mean I played hard, but I still think that
after looking back, had I not had all that animosity and
anger about just playing one position, I think I could
have given a lot more, which would have resulted in our
win/loss record being a lot different than it was.
I take the cards that I’m dealt,
and I went ahead and played, and at that time, I was
thinking why didn’t I just try and go pro after my
junior year, because there were a lot of NBA scouts
there watching. But I thought what was best for me was
coming back to improve myself and skills in playing both
slots, and then see if I could get a shot or tryout. But
things didn’t work out as best they should have.
And also, I had some stuff that I
never received from the coach. I hate to bring up
negatives, and like to stay positive, but it’s tough
sometimes. That was a tough year, and especially going
13-18, nobody wants to go out their senior year with a
Sure, we did have a young team, but
we were talented enough to be better than what we were.
HHC: How difficult was it to end your
college career on a sour note like that, especially
after riding the highs of the previous season?
DV: It was very difficult, because what we
accomplished the first year, all my thoughts were that
it was going to be better the next year. And we were 1
or 2 games away from making the NCAA Tournament that
first year, and I think it was between it was and
K-State, and that’s when we lost to them in the Big 8
tournament. And, they ended up with the selection.
But it was very disappointing to
see where we were the first year, and come back the
second year and have a down year like that, because we
expected better things and more things. So that was very
disappointing, and like I said, you never like to end
your career with a losing record like that. You’d like
to be able to end on a positive note and not have a
losing season. And you had to think about what your
options would be afterwards, and you knew you were on
your own and had no help, so I continued to get my
education and degree the following year.
I wish I would have done some
things differently, like come out with a positive
attitude and keep things to my own. As I look back, I
don’t think I was giving it my all, because I still had
that animosity about only playing one position instead
of multiple. So, I didn’t let that go that year, and I
still had that chip on my shoulder.
HHC: Both on and off the court, what do
you remember most about UNL?
DV: Off the court, the environment, the
atmosphere of the student body. I enjoyed my time here.
Lincoln is not a huge town, but it’s a nice college
town, and you’ve got quite a few things to do. Of
course, you can always get into trouble no matter where
you are, but with Lincoln, I enjoyed myself and never
really got into any kind of trouble. It’s a good college
HHC: And finally, what has Derrick Vick
been doing since 1988?
DV: After college, I got my degree and
started working for Commercial Investment Property,
which is a local real estate company, and they are still
around, the big dogs on the block here in terms of real
estate and property management. They own quite a few
properties in and around Lincoln. So, I worked for them
for 10 or 11 years. And then I started working for State
Farm as insurance. (Pauses) What son? (Laughs)
HHC: You there?
DV: Yeah, (Laughs) my
son just said that I had him in that time too. (Laughs)
But yeah, then I went to work for State Farm Insurance
working catastrophe claims, so anytime you hear
catastrophic laden events, that’s where I’m at. I was
just in New Orleans and just left last week, and had
been there since early September.
HHC: What was that
DV: Worse than you can imagine. You can’t
imagine the devastation. Sure, the pictures tell you one
thing, but actually being there and being in it and
going around and see it - wow.
Imagine Omaha and Lincoln combined,
devastated. Everything from electricity being taken
away, water, housing, you name it, nothing was
available. Just imagine what everything would be like
coming to a screeching halt. No university, no
hospitals, no nothing. And I was down there September 2nd,
which was early, right after it first happened, and it
was incredible. Just the amount of flood waters with
homes being 10 feet under water, and just sitting
underwater. The flooding came and never went away, it
came and it stayed.
HHC: Puts a new
perspective on life, I’m sure.
DV: For sure.
HHC: Hey, would you
be cool taking some e-mails from our readers if we set
you up an account at
DV: Yeah, for sure.
Derrick, thanks a lot for taking the time to join us.
Anything you’d like to add or say to the fans of
DV: Nope, tell them that I’m still around
and enjoying Lincoln. Keep rooting and keep wishing for
the best. Our program is still looking to improve, and