Basketball

NBA Prospect Watch: Ochai Agbaji soars after returning to KU

Kansas guard Ochai Agbaji (30) reacts after a three-point shot in the second inning of an NCAA college basketball game against the Iowa Hurricanes Tuesday, Jan. 11, 2022 in Lawrence, Kansas, Kansas won 62-61.  (AP Photo/Ed Zurga)

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Kansas guard Ochai Agbaji (30) reacts after a three-point shot in the second inning of an NCAA college basketball game against the Iowa Hurricanes Tuesday, Jan. 11, 2022 in Lawrence, Kansas, Kansas won 62-61. (AP Photo/Ed Zurga)

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Kansas guard Ochai Agbaji (30) reacts after a three-point shot in the second inning of an NCAA college basketball game against the Iowa Hurricanes Tuesday, Jan. 11, 2022 in Lawrence, Kansas, Kansas won 62-61. (AP Photo/Ed Zurga)

Lawrence, Kansas (AP) – Ochai Agbaji arrived in Kansas as a three-star potential underappreciated, and the scholarship offer list includes Colorado, Northern Iowa and a host of other mid-level businesses along with the Jayhawks and a couple other Power Five schools.

He will leave after this season as a potential first-round pick in the NBA.

The 6-foot-6 substitute from suburban Kansas City was one of the biggest finds of the season, helping the No. 9 Jayhawks to a 13-2 start including wins over Michigan State and Iowa State. Along the way, Agbaji has raised his tally to over 20 points per game, thanks primarily to an outside shot that is among the best in the country.

“Really my main focus has been consistency and focus on that more than anything else,” Agbagi said. “Not going out with the total in mind for points or anything like that. Just being firm and consistent.”

Want consistency? Agbaji has scored at least 10 points per game this season, and has nine games to go with at least 20 points. That includes a 29-point blast against the Spartans and 22 in 62-61 nail-biting against the Hurricanes.

Agbaji announced the draft after last season, but mostly to get feedback from NBA scouts. Knowing he’d be a second-round pick at best, he returned to Kansas in his first season, and he’s made the most of it thus far, driving his stock up just two months before he marches in frenzy.

“I don’t know I would have pictured him as one of the top scorers in the country,” Kansas coach Bill Self said, “but he has prepared himself for a good year. He plays with confidence. I think the first game (against Michigan State) worked wonders for his overall confidence, and he’s playing really well.” He doesn’t impose anything and plays inside himself, which is very effective.”

Size: 6-5 pounds

Stats: 20.6 points, 4.6 rebounds per game while shooting 47.5% from outside the arc

Strength: His ability to pick up and shoot with cadence is excellent, especially from an off-arc, but he’s also strong enough to end traffic at the edge. He is also an excellent and willing defender. Agabji is also very competitive and has no problem taking important hits late in the game.

Weaknesses: Agbaji’s ability to shoot, dribble and create his own shot is still in progress, and he hasn’t shown enough consistency until this season. He can also be more down-to-earth, often choosing to lead by example.

Project Drop: Mid first round.

Some other NBA possibilities about the Big 12:

Kendall Brown, Baylor: One of the country’s top potential young strikers, Brown is extremely athletic and brilliant both in transition and in defense. There are times when he’s very passive on attack, and at 6-foot-6 he needs to make better use of his jumping ability to collect rebounds, but Brown is almost certain to be a lottery pick in the draft.

Christian Brown, KS: The 6-7 swinging man turned from an inconsistent shooter into an all-out problem for a defense opponent. Brown averaged over 16 points while shooting 34.7% off the outside of the arc, which is much stronger than he looks, giving him the ability to finish off the edge.

TERRENCE SHANNON JR. , Texas Tech: Shannon’s diving ability is on another level, but his outside shot has yet to develop. He represents a pure winger who can get close to the basket, while his defense with the ball and his defense are above average.

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More AP college basketball: https://apnews.com/hub/college-basketball, https://apnews.com/hub/ap-top-25-college-basketball-poll, https://twitter. com/AP_Top25

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