Midway through his best season as a Jayhawk, Kansas junior Ochai Agbaji has been named a top-10 candidate for the Jerry West Shooting Guard of the Year Award, the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame announced Tuesday.
Agbaji, who leads 15th-ranked Kansas in scoring at 14.5 points per game, ranks second in the Big 12 and 32nd nationally in 3-point percentage (43.2%) and also ranks second in the conference at 2.73 3-point makes per game.
Agbaji’s 30 assists also rank second on his team, trailing only point guard Marcus Garrett, who has 52.
Asked recently what aspect of Agbaji’s junior season has impressed him most thus far, Kansas coach Bill Self pointed to Agbaji’s play on offense.
“I just think he's been very efficient and he's been aggressive and you know he's had a pretty solid year,” Self said.
Self noted that the junior from Kansas City, Mo., has been better as both a ball handler and distributor this season than he was during his first two years in the program. And he added that one of the biggest reasons Agbaji has been so efficient this season is his ability to score from both inside and outside the 3-point line.
Accoring to hoop-math.com, Agbaji is shooting 59.5% at the rim this season as well as 71.8% at the free throw line.
Agbaji’s name also came up on Monday night on Self’s “Hawk Talk” radio show, when the KU coach talked about this team’s need to find more energy and intensity to get back on track.
“I think Ochai’s the best we’ve got,” Self said. “I mean, I think he’s terrific. He’s so positive and everything. He’s great.”
Agbaji is one of two players from the Big 12 Conference (Baylor’s MaCio Teague) on the Jerry West Award’s top 10, which will be handed out on April 9.
College basketball fans can support their favorite players by participating in the fan voting portion of the award beginning Jan. 29 at www.hoophallawards.com.
Here’s the complete list of the 10 players still in the mix for this year’s honor.
2021 Jerry West Award Candidates ~
Terry Taylor - Austin Peay
MaCio Teague – Baylor
James Bouknight – Connecticut
Joel Ayayi – Gonzaga
Joe Wieskamp – Iowa
Ochai Agbaji – Kansas
Cameron Thomas – LSU
Franz Wagner – Michigan
Chris Duarte – Oregon
Jordan Goodwin - Saint Louis
~ Players still can play their way onto or off of the list at any point during the 2020-21 season