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Ochai Agbaji Caps Off KU Career with Title Game Victory

Ochai Agbaji Caps Off KU Career with Title Game Victory

Sam Lance

Ochai Agbaji didn’t care about being named the most outstanding player of the NCAA Tournament. He was just glad to be a national champion. The senior scored 12 points as Kansas basketball defeated North Carolina, 72-69, in New Orleans on Monday Night. 

Just to show the type of leader Agbaji is for KU, the senior said that instead of him, fellow senior David McCormack should have won the award. 

“He’s my guy,” Agbaji said. “We got here at the same time and these goal, these dreams that we’re living right now, we never would have thought when first stepped on campus. But now living it and living it with him and leaving here with history in our name just means so much to the both of us.” 

When the final buzzer sounded, Agbaji celebrated at midcourt with some of his teammates before going to hug KU’s radio announcers Brian Hanni and Greg Gurley. Later on, Agbaji had a moment with his family. Agbaji cried in his mother’s and sister’s arms while his dad said “You’re a champion!” 

That moment, and watching the confetti fall, was an accumulation of years of hard work by Agbaji. He came to as a three-star recruit, ranked No. 179 overall in the nation by 247Sports. Now, through hard work and dedication, Agbaji is a national champion, Big 12 Player of the Year, consensus first-team All-American and Big 12 tournament most outstanding player. That’s just a few of the 20 plus honors Agbaji has received this season. 

“When he was younger, maybe third or fourth grade, just AAU and playing, just always giving it his all no matter if they were down or anything,” Erica Agbaji, his mother, said. “[He’s] just a hard worker.”

Bill Self said that Agbaji is the second most accomplished player in Kansas basketball history, behind only Danny Manning – who averaged 20 plus points per game twice and led KU to a national championship in 1987-88. 

“To think that four years, win the national championship, win the league, win the Big 12 Tournament, win the NCAA Tournament, to be the most outstanding player – we’ve never had anybody. We may have had some guys that had comparable years, but never had anybody cap it off like what he has other than [Manning].”

Agbaji averaged 18.0 points, 4.7 rebounds and 1.0 assists per game throughout the NCAA Tournament. He also totaled eight blocks, which led KU in March Madness. The senior’s historical season will likely earn him a spot in the rafters one day. 

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