Thursday, April 8, 2021

KU junior Ochai Agbaji declares for NBA draft, plans to retain college eligibility

Kansas guard Ochai Agbaji (30) soars in for a breakaway dunk against UTEP guard Keonte Kennedy (3) during the second half on Thursday, March 4, 2021 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas guard Ochai Agbaji (30) soars in for a breakaway dunk against UTEP guard Keonte Kennedy (3) during the second half on Thursday, March 4, 2021 at Allen Fieldhouse.


Kansas junior Ochai Agbaji announced Thursday afternoon that he is entering his name into the NBA draft pool with the option to return to school for his senior season.

“I will be keeping my NCAA eligibility throughout this process and look forward to hearing from NBA professionals on ways I can improve my game,” Agbaji said in a news release posted to Twitter. “This is a great opportunity as I work towards my goal of being a professional basketball player.”

Per NCAA rules, student-athletes can participate in the NBA draft process and still return to school if they withdraw their name from the draft pool by July 19.

Agbaji, whose draft stock has been all over the map during his first three years at Kansas — from a potential lottery pick late in his freshman season to off the board in various mock drafts — was KU’s leading scorer during the recently completed 2020-21 season, his best as a Jayhawk.

Just one of the two more popular NBA mock drafts for the 2021 draft (July 29) had Agbaji listed as a draft pick in their most recent versions.

Yahoo Sports lists Agbaji as the final pick of the second round (No. 60 to Indiana) and draft guru Jonathan Givony, whose most recent mock draft was posted Thursday, did not have Agbaji listed in the two-round draft.

“Ochai and I talked a lot about his basketball future over the past couple of weeks so he could determine what was best for he and his family moving forward,” KU coach Bill Self said in the release. “After thinking that through, he made the decision to enter the NBA Draft. He clearly has a skill set that translates well to the professional game, and the NBA draft process will be a great opportunity for him to be evaluated. He will sign with an agent, but will continue follow the guidelines set by the NCAA and NBA to protect his collegiate eligibility. Och will be able to gain great insight on what areas he needs to work on which could improve his draft stock. I know that will be benefi-cial for him this year before he decides whether he should come back or remain in the NBA Draft process.”

Agbaji averaged 14.1 points and 3.7 rebounds in a team-high 33.7 minutes per game. He also ranked third on the team in steals (33) and fifth in assists (56).

In addition to stepping into the role of KU’s top scorer, Agbaji showcased his improved shooting from long distance throughout the season.

He led Kansas’ regulars with a 37.7% clip from 3-point range and proved he could get hot on any given night. He made four or more 3-pointers in a single game eight time this season and hit at least three 3-point shots in a game 15 times.

His career-best 3-point season as a Jayhawk — percentage-wise — came on more volume, as Agbaji attempted 52% more 3-pointers than he did as a sophomore (207 to 136) and made 70% more of his total 3-point shots (78 to 46).

Agbaji said that being part of the Kansas basketball family these past three years did more for him than just advance and develop his skills as a player.”

“By coming to KU, I gained an extended family that I will forever appreciate," he said. "From my teammates, to my coaches, support staff and the fans, you are simply the best. Thank you to coach Self and the entire coaching staff for trusting me and pushing me each and every day. Not only have I become a better player but an even better man.”

None by Ochai Agbaji

None by Kansas Basketball


Brian Wilson 1 year, 5 months ago

Smart move in my opinion. If not drafted high enough come back and play another year.

Jeff Coffman 1 year, 5 months ago

From Red-Shirt Burned to Star in 3 years, this is taking raw talent to NBA levels.

I still think he needs another year, but I'm a fan not an evaluator of talent at this level.

Just my gut feeling he could have a really good year next year and move to a lottery pick. Right now, he is rightfully assessed at the very tail end of the draft if at all.

I'm also biased, I would like him to be here next year.

Eric Dawson 1 year, 5 months ago

ERRATA. The NCAA withdrawal deadline is July 7, 10 days after the last day of the combine.

July 19 is the NBA withdrawal deadline.

IOW If OA waits to the 19th he will have lost his eligibility.

Bryce Landon 1 year, 5 months ago

He's not ready. He's a streaky shooter at best. He needs to come back for a senior year and improve his game.

Robert Brock 1 year, 5 months ago

Remember all the times that Ochai drove past his opponent to the rim? Me neither.

Sam Meyer 1 year, 5 months ago

Ochai, you’ve represented the university well. I wish you the best of luck. To be blunt, you are not ready for the NBA at this time.

Tony Bandle 1 year, 5 months ago

Random Thoughts:

1] This is a smart move by Ochai..if he uses it correctly. Go through the evaluation process with no intention of leaving school but go to get directions as to what he needs to do to improve his chances after next season.

2] Two things are certain:[1] He has the physical tools to make the league.[2] None of those tools are currently developed enough to actually make it as they stand now.

3] He's a guaranteed starter with much playing time and exposure.

4] No matter what would happen after next season if he stays, there's always Europe and an opportunity to still make some real cash.

Mallory Briggans 1 year, 5 months ago

ochai is playing with house money . If he were to get drafted thats great for him ......if he doesnt get drafted he can come back with input from scouts and GM's on what he needs to work on . NBA scouts actually considered Enaruna with more upside than Ochai for whatever reason so talent evaluation can be a mystery at times . but none the less I wont be upset either way

Lonnie Ross Dillon 1 year, 5 months ago

He can't come back if he waits to see if he's drafted. if 7 July is the NCAA date, that's well before the draft.

Ted Hume 1 year, 5 months ago

Correct - two people have made that same comment. He has to pull out of the process well before the actual draft in order to return.

Jesse Johnson 1 year, 5 months ago

That's incorrect. The NCAA changed the rules so that you can return to school even if you stay in the draft, but go undrafted, as long as you don't hire an agent (or it has to be some NCAA approved agent or something).

Chris Bailey 1 year, 5 months ago

So the whole "Student athletes can return to school as long as they withdraw from the draft by July 19th for the July 29th draft" That's not a true statement? If that were the case then why wouldn't every player declare every year and just roll the dice to see where they end up? I mean what does it hurt them? Maybe they get lucky and get drafted or grab a lucrative contract? Quite certain I'm going with Matt Tait on being right on this one. You enter the draft and remain in the draft you're done, period.

Brian Skelly 1 year, 5 months ago

The reality is Agbaji is good, but not great player.    It's probably smart for him to do this, but I have trouble seeing him get drafted.    He's probably an G-League player.   Which is fine, by the way.    But he's bound to get a 2-way deal at best.

The question then becomes, will he jump up the draft board if he waits?   I'd doubt it.    Which is why he should declare.

 Im quite sure Self will be able to fill the spot as well.

Dan Leftwich 1 year, 5 months ago

Why would he come back for another year and risk a career-ending injury? His senior year in college means he's old to the NBA. A great senior year might get him into the top of the second round. I personally think some team is going to take a chance on his athleticism and improved shooting ability to take him late in the second round or offer him a tryout. He has been a credit to the program. I wish him the best whatever he decides to do.

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