Who is Ochai Agbaji, Kansas player and 2022 NBA draft pick?

KU's Ochai Agbaji (left) poured in a game-high 25 points in the Jayhawks' 88-59 win over Stony Brook at Allen Fieldhouse in November.

KU’s Ochai Agbaji (left) poured in a game-high 25 points in the Jayhawks’ 88-59 win over Stony Brook at Allen Fieldhouse in November.

rsugg@kcstar.com

It’s draft day in the NBA, and the University of Kansas might have produced another lottery pick.

Kansas City native and star guard Ochai Agbaji is projected to go within the top 14, with CBS Sports predicting the Charlotte Hornets will select him with the 13th pick and NBA writer Drew Packham projecting him to go to the Cleveland Cavaliers with the 14th pick. ESPN commentator Dick Vitale also projects Agbaji will head to Cleveland.

No matter where he goes, fans of his new team will want to know more about who he is and what he brings to the table. Here are five things to know about Ochai Agbaji.

HE’S A NATIONAL CHAMPION

As fans of the sport saw during March Madness, Agbaji is a proven winner. He was a key player in KU’s championship run during the 2021-22 season. He averaged 13.7 points a game during the tournament and earned Most Outstanding Player honors for his performances.

Agbaji also averaged 18.8 points, 5.1 rebounds and 1.6 assists per game throughout the entire season and was a consensus All-America First Team selection.

All in all, Agbaji scored more than 1,000 points for KU.

BOTH OF HIS PARENTS PLAYED COLLEGE BASKETBALL

His parents, Olofu and Erica Agbaji, both played basketball at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Olofu lettered during the 1991-92 season, while Erica was a four-year letterwoman from 1991-1994.

Basketball’s in his blood, but in this video by the NBA, he said he originally wanted to play soccer in college. Receiving a basketball scholarship offer swayed his decision, and it’s safe to say he made the right choice.

KANSAS CITY IS HOME

Agbaji was born in Milwaukee, but was raised in Kansas City after his family moved here when he was six-years-old. He played both basketball and soccer at Oak Park High School in Kansas City and was set on playing soccer in college, but focused solely on basketball after he got a scholarship offer.

Before his scholarship to KU, Agbaji averaged 27.6 points and 8.6 rebounds per game in his senior year at Oak Park High School during the 2017-2018 school year.

The Star named him All-Metro player of the year that season, and he was ranked the 334th best senior in his class. Looking back, that’s pretty low for a future NBA player.

He was also the recipient of the Greater Kansas City Basketball Coaches Association’s DiRenna Award in 2018. KU teammate Christian Braun won it the following year, and he’s also projected to be drafted in the first round in this year’s draft.

Agbaji redshirted his freshman year, but it was taken off after KU center Udoka Azubuike suffered a season-ending hand injury. He stepped up to the plate when his number was called and got better every year.

HE’S A TRIPLE THREAT

Shooting, athleticism and defense. These are some of the traits college players need to have to make it to the next level, according to NBA scouts.

Guess who has all of those?

Standing at 6’5 ”with a 6’10” wingspan and weighing 215 pounds, Agbaji can immediately impact any team that chooses him. NBA scouts said he has a prototypical frame for the league to go along with very good all-around athleticism.

He’s more of an off-ball scoring threat, meaning teams shouldn’t leave him open. He shot 41% from beyond the arc during his senior year at KU.

But, he can also create his own shots as he became KU’s No. 1 scoring option. He’s guarded multiple positions on defense and was successful in locking down the opposing team’s best player throughout the 2021 season.

CHIPOTLE HAS A MEAL NAMED AFTER HIM

Agbaji was asked by former Houston Rockets and Los Angeles Clippers guard Cuttino Mobley what he ordered at Chipotle. He gets white and brown rice, polished asada, tomato salsa, queso blanco, sour cream and cheese, with a tortilla on the side.

You can now get that exact order, called “The Ochai Agbaji Bowl,” on Chipotle’s digital menu and on their app. Maybe a good meal to celebrate with when he’s drafted?

Joseph Hernandez is a member of The Star’s service journalism team. A native of Kansas City, Hernandez graduated from Cristo Rey Kansas City High School and the University of Missouri-Columbia. He previously wrote for the Columbia Missourian and The Pitch.

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