Tuesday, April 17, 2018

KU signee Ochai Agbaji calls jump from unranked to Top 150 ‘kind of crazy’

Oak Park High guard Ochai Agbaji drives to the rim during a recent high school game against Liberty North in the William Jewell Tourney last December. The 6-foot-5, 195-pound wing recently became one of the hottest unsigned prospects in the country after picking up offers from Kansas, Nebraska, Oregon, Texas A&M and Wisconsin. On Thursday, Feb. 8, 2018, Agbaji committed to KU during a ceremony at his high school.

Oak Park High guard Ochai Agbaji drives to the rim during a recent high school game against Liberty North in the William Jewell Tourney last December. The 6-foot-5, 195-pound wing recently became one of the hottest unsigned prospects in the country after picking up offers from Kansas, Nebraska, Oregon, Texas A&M and Wisconsin. On Thursday, Feb. 8, 2018, Agbaji committed to KU during a ceremony at his high school.


When soon-to-be KU freshman Ochai Agbaji was entering his junior year at Oak Park High in Kansas City, Mo., he stumbled upon some sort of recruiting web site and saw something he did not like.

“Some web site had me ranked 11th in the state,” Agbaji told the Journal-World on Tuesday. “And I was like, 'OK. But I think I'm better than all these people above me.' But it didn't really get to me. I just kept playing my game and kept getting better.”

The plan worked. In a big way.

Earlier this week, Agbaji — pronounced Och-Eye Uh-Bah-Gee — saw his ranking on the database sky-rocket, from unranked to landing in the Rivals 150 at No. 141 overall.

The web site, which had nothing but dashes next to Agbaji's name throughout his senior season, now lists the future Jayhawk as the 39th best shooting guard in the country and one of the Top 150 players in the 2018 recruiting class.

“Just to see that, from unranked to No. 141 or something like that, that was kind of crazy,” Agbaji said.

Although rankings and such have never meant much to Agbaji, he did admit that it was “an honor” to receive this latest recognition from one of the top players in the recruiting industry.

“It is kind of cool to see all my hard work pay off,” he said. “But I don't really worry about that. Not too much. It doesn't really mean anything, whoever's ranked above me or below me, doesn't really matter to me. When I was getting into high school, I would see all those rankings and stuff and just seeing that I'm a part of that right now, with a bunch of other good players, is pretty cool.”

Last week, Agbaji made his commitment to KU official by signing and sending his national letter of intent to the Kansas basketball offices. In the days since, the 6-foot-4, 200-pound shooting guard who was considered by many to be the best player in the Kansas City area by the time his senior season ended, has become much more of a household name.

Last Thursday, Agbaji backed up that claim by becoming the male recipient of this year's DiRenna Award, given annually to the top player in Kansas City by the Greater Kansas City Basketball Coaches Association. And, one night later, Agbaji represented Oak Park High one final time at the GKCBCA All-Star game.

“I've definitely received a lot more attention from everywhere,” he said of the impact of him becoming a Jayhawk. “All kinds of people are still congratulating me and it feels way more official, obviously. But I'm just ready to get on campus and start working.”

Agbaji's final day of school is set for May 4 and graduation is scheduled for May 11. After that, he'll continue to work out with a variety of trainers while counting down the days until he can report to Lawrence for his first day as a KU basketball player on June 1.

As for what specific aspects of his game Agbaji will be working on between now and then, the versatile guard with pointed to two areas as his main focus.

“Just improving my ball-handling and then just being a more consistent shooter,” he said. “That'll always help the team.”

Two of the other three prospects signed by Kansas in the 2018 class — combo guard Quentin Grimes and center David McCormack — moved up, with Grimes jumping two spots from No. 10 to No. 8 and McCormack moving up one spot to No. 33.

Point guard Devon Dotson was the only future Jayhawk in the 2018 class — for now — who dropped in the updated rankings, falling one spot from No. 17 to No. 18.

Dotson, Grimes and McCormack all played in last month's McDonald's All-American Game, while Grimes and McCormack followed that up by playing in the Nike Hoop Summit game for Team USA.


Len Shaffer 2 years, 6 months ago

Sounds like he's got a good head on his shoulders. But one more thing he should work on if he wants to get into Self's rotation quickly: his defense.

Ben Kane 2 years, 6 months ago

that was my exact takeaway also. sounds like a good kid but the stuff he's worried about will come.

Mike Greer 2 years, 6 months ago

My guess is, if Bill Self sees potential in a player, people take notice. He's done a great job with top 10 players, but what makes him special is what he's done with guys like Frank and Devonte. Can he do the same with Ochai? I'll bet can.

Craig Carson 2 years, 6 months ago

funny thing is Selfs track record with 4 and below players is better than his 5 players....TROB, Morris twins, Jeff Graves, Jeff Withey, Travis Releford, Frank Mason, Graham, ect.....

Jesse Johnson 2 years, 6 months ago

I don't know if I'd completely agree with that. Mario Chalmers, Brandon Rush, Julian Wright, Darrell Arthur, Sherron Collins were all 5 stars and they were fantastic. Also, I know some of our OADs were pretty bad (Selby, Cliff Alexander, Diallo) and some were just ok (Xavier Henry, Kelly Oubre) but some were great (Embiid, Wiggins, Josh Jackson).

Tony Bandle 2 years, 6 months ago

McClemore may have been our best two and done. Who knows....maybe the Lawsons and Charlie will,end up in that category!

Marius Rowlanski 2 years, 6 months ago

Mostly agree but let's not forget the Mervyn Lindsays' who transferred after the first year or the many others who commit and then decide to go elsewhere such as Zack Peters and Royce Woolridge.

Maybe not the best spot for this but I personally think that Coach Self's biggest personnel mistake was buying into Greene's three-point shot while Andrew White III left to get playing time.

But yes, Bill Self's track record with four-star players has been instrumental in his success at Kansas.

Marius Rowlanski 2 years, 6 months ago

Graham, Svi, and Mason were all late-season signees with Mason hadn't been recruited until a year later. Graham made it all the way up to #36 while Svi was never ranked other than being declared as a top 25 player. That info was from Rivals, for whatever that is worth. Rivals have pushed Ochai into the Top150.

For Adidas, this is barely a blip in the road. They have the money but maybe they decide to pull back. They're gonna take the predictable tough hit but in five years, nothing will have changed except maybe some new faces

Self completely transformed our style of play starting soon after 2012. We needed to work our way around a depleted backcourt and he delivered without playing player named in the indictment.

Mike Greer 2 years, 6 months ago

I would say that has as much to do with their time under his tutelage as anything. The players you mention were all three and four year players. It's difficult to do as much with a OAD like Wiggins or Jackson, but Embid made great strides in just a year. A lot of progress with DeSousa in just a couple of months.

Dirk Medema 2 years, 6 months ago

Coach Self has made comments that he purposefully limits some of his coaching with the players that are known to be here for just one year. Even Dok, after the OU game, had to decide that he wanted Coach's input. He can help anyone. The question is do they want his input. Even several of the 1nDone have commented on coming because they want Coach's development. When they're that good, and here for that short a time, most of us would never notice the difference, just as we don't notice all the good and bad acts on the court.

Marius Rowlanski 2 years, 6 months ago

Definitely interesting but I'm not sure that it reflects anything except maybe the confidence in both teams.

Craig Carson 2 years, 6 months ago

I think Jackson did make improvements over his 1 year..towards the end he actually became a respectable 3pt least compared to how he shot it during the 1st half of the season

Mallory Briggans 2 years, 6 months ago

Just musing about Ochai......first congrats on being a Jayhawk.....but there were post awhile back on what we should call him......since he is from Kansas City ...and his first name is Ochai.......I will refer to him as OKC i like the sound of that ......OKC.

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