Originally published July 6, 2021 at 09:15a.m., updated July 6, 2021 at 03:36p.m.
Kansas guard Ochai Agbaji has decided to return to KU for his senior season after spending the last several weeks testing his NBA draft status,
“Jayhawk Nation, I’m coming back," Agbaji said in a Tuesday afternoon news release announcing his return.
Agbaji's decision to withdraw his name from the 2021 NBA draft pool cleared the way for him to return to a Kansas roster that is projected by many to be a top-three team entering the 2021-22 college basketball season.
Agbaji’s decision comes five days after teammate Jalen Wilson withdrew his name from the NBA draft to return to Kansas for his sophomore season.
“Going through the process at the NBA Combine and team workouts has been a really good experience," Agbaji said. "I cannot thank my family enough, the NBA teams, my KU coaches and teammates, as well as everyone who supported me in this process. I am so looking forward to next season, playing in front of the best fans in basketball and contending for a national championship.”
Like Wilson, Agbaji made it clear back in April that he planned to retain his college eligibility while going through the draft process. Although his announcement to declare for the draft sounded like a final farewell, Agbaji noted in his Twitter post announcing the decision that he was looking forward to "hearing from NBA professionals on ways I can improve my game."
He added: "This is a great opportunity as I work towards my goal of being a professional basketball player."
The return of Agbaji and Wilson would give Kansas four starters back from the 2020-21 team that finished 21-9. Senior-to-be David McCormack and junior Christian Braun are the other two. Returning 80% of last season's starting lineup is both noteworthy and key for Kansas given the fact that KU coach Bill Self added 10 newcomers (8 scholarship players and 2 walk-ons) to the roster during the offseason.
Agbaji returns to KU having started 77 consecutive games, which ranks 12th on KU’s all-time list.
The 6-foot-5 Kansas City, Mo., native led the Jayhawks in scoring last season at 14.1 points per game while also adding averages of 3.6 rebounds, 1.9 assists, 1.1 steals in 34 minutes per game.
Agbaji, who has been a key veteran on the last two Kansas teams, also shot a career-best 37% from 3-point range during the 2020-21 season.
According to ESPN.com draft analyst Jonathan Givony, Agbaji’s decision and full year still to develop makes him “a potential first-round pick” in the 2022 NBA draft.
In addition to being the top returning shooter and scorer in the Kansas lineup, Agbaji stands to be one of the best-known players in the Big 12 Conference during his final season. His past production and fan-friendly personality have made him one of the most popular players on the roster in recent years, and his experience and leadership are expected to play a key role in bringing the new-look roster together.
“We are all very excited Ochai has made the decision to return for one more year,” Self said in the release. “He did exactly what the process allows and encourages players to considering the Draft to do. He will be better for it and so will our basketball team. We believe Ochai is a first-round talent and I look forward to pushing him daily towards that. I can’t wait to have Ochai and our full complement of players here very soon.”
Later in the day Tuesday, KU also got word that Arizona State transfer Remy Martin had withdrawn his name from the draft pool and was planning to come to Kansas for his super senior season.
G - Remy Martin, Sr.^
G - Ochai Agbaji, Sr.
G - Chris Teahan, Sr.*
G - Jalen Coleman-Lands, Sr.^
F - Mitch Lightfoot, Sr.^
F - David McCormack, Sr.
F - Cam Martin, Sr.^
G - Christian Braun, Jr.
G - Michael Jankovich, Jr.*
F - Jalen Wilson, Soph.
G - Dajuan Harris, Soph.
G - Joseph Yesufu, Soph.
G - Bobby Pettiford Jr., Fr.
G - Kyle Cuffe Jr., Fr.
F - KJ Adams, Fr.
F - Zach Clemence, Fr.
G - Charlie McCarthy, Fr.*
F - Dillon Wilhite, Fr.*
^ super senior