Stephen Vinson, who joined Kansas University's men's basketball team as a preferred walk-on, will conclude his career as a full scholarship player.
"I'm obviously honored and thankful," Vinson said Tuesday after KU coach Bill Self said the 6-foot-2 senior guard would receive free tuition and books, plus room, board and meals in his final college campaign.
"I would have played hard no matter what, but no doubt it will be a lot easier to go to practice and work hard knowing everything is paid for," said Vinson, who has appeared in 39 games in three years following a stellar career at Lawrence High.
"I love KU and KU basketball. It's great when good things come after hard work."
Self was happy to reward Vinson, who fills the Jayhawks' allotment of 13 scholarship players.
"Stephen has been a great teammate during his time here at Kansas," Self said. "He's very positive, a great ambassador on campus and the hardest working Jayhawk in our program. He has improved a tremendous amount since he has been here due to his attitude and work ethic. He's worked his tail off."
The scholarship comes at the right time for Vinson.
"I got engaged this past summer, and this will help with the finances," said Vinson, who will marry former Free State High athlete Anna Harvey on May 19.
Vinson, who did not score in five games last season and has tallied 15 points in three seasons, isn't sure what's in store this season. KU again is loaded at the guard position.
"I look forward to competing," said Vinson. "I hope we're too good. I hope I can't get in the game because we're too good.
"We will be as athletic as any team in the country. We've got a lot of young legs. If our young guys can grow up fast and it looks like they are heading that way, we can surprise some people."
Vinson, a communications major, plans to help lead younger players. KU has five freshmen and six sophomores on the roster.
"I think naturally I've grown into that (leadership role), being one of the old guys," Vinson said. "I try to let the young guys know the ropes so they are more prepared for practice, conditioning, weights."
Self has seen positive qualities in Vinson. "Stephen will be a great leader for our young guys to follow," Self said. "His role with this team should be greater than any other time during his career."
¢ Rush in class: Newcomer Brandon Rush attended his first set of classes Tuesday at KU. He's looked good in individual workouts. "He's had good workouts, he's just out of shape like the rest of the guys," Self said. "He's athletic and unselfish. Everybody likes him."