Ochai Agbaji, a 6-foot-5, 210-pound freshman guard out of Oak Park High School, who started the 2018-19 season as a redshirt, will be immediately eligible to play in games starting Wednesday against TCU, Kansas basketball coach Bill Self said Tuesday on his Hawk Talk radio show.
It was announced on Nov. 5 that Agbaji would redshirt this season — practice but not play in games — and have four years of eligibility remaining starting in 2019-20.
But the season-ending hand injury to Udoka Azubuike means some minutes may be available now for Agbaji, who chose KU over Wisconsin, Texas A&M, Nebraska, Oregon, Oklahoma State, Oregon State and others in recruiting. He’s the No. 145-ranked player in the recruiting Class of 2018 by Rivals.com.
“We are bringing Ochai out of his redshirt. He will play tomorrow and play moving forward,” Self said Tuesday on Hawk Talk.
“We are going to have to play small. We need some some guys who can make plays above the rim. You can’t really teach or coach quickness, activity, those type of athletic plays.”
Self said Agbaji has practiced with the first team the past couple days.
“He’s looked good,” Self said. “It’s not going to be easy. It will take him a while to fit in. As far as practice and athletic ability, he’s probably the best athlete we have on our team. That’s exciting. He’s improved so much. He’s gotten so much better since the beginning of the year. If we’d known he’d be where he is right now before we’d have never considered it (redshirt) because he’s done so well.”
Self said Agbaji is quite enthused about getting to play Wednesday versus TCU and down the line.
“We are thinking Ochai can definitely do some things to spark us,” Self said. “He will play. How much he plays still remains to be seen … because you’ve got to win. He’s on board. I asked him today, ‘What do you think?’ He said, ‘Let’s do it.’ I know he’s very excited.”
Agbaji, who averaged 27.6 points and 8.6 rebounds his senior year for Oak Park High (23-3), committed to KU in February 2018.
“He’s been great. He can run the floor with the best of them. He’s really athletic, really fast, a high-flyer. He could really help us out,” KU freshman guard Devon Dotson said.
“He’s more of a slasher, just to play to his athletic ability. He’s a great energy guy, great mindset, very athletic and he plays with pace,” noted freshman forward David McCormack.
No news on De Sousa
Self said there’s no new news to report on Silvio De Sousa, who has not been cleared to play in games by the NCAA as he awaits results of an eligibility review. “I don’t have any feelings on Silvio (situation) whether positive or negative,” Self said on Hawk Talk. “I initially thought very positively back in December. The longer this has gone on, well, I know how we see it or how I see it. I know it’s probably more complicated than the way I see it, though nobody’s told me that.
“The reality is I am not being negative at all about it, just factual. I don’t have any feel now on a timeframe,” Self added, noting the decision to pull Agbaji’s redshirt has nothing to do with De Sousa’s situation.
Self said Azubuike will have surgery on his right hand on Wednesday. He’s expected to return to the court in June.