University of Kansas

KU’s Ochai Agbaji pondered putting his name in 2019 NBA Draft: ‘I did for a little bit’

KU freshman guard Ochai Agbaji on improving during the offseason

After KU's annual basketball banquet Tuesday night, April 16, 2019 in Lawrence, Jayhawks freshman guard Ochai Agbaji talked about improving his game and playing with new teammates next season.
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After KU's annual basketball banquet Tuesday night, April 16, 2019 in Lawrence, Jayhawks freshman guard Ochai Agbaji talked about improving his game and playing with new teammates next season.

Kansas basketball guard Ochai Agbaji admits he considered testing the 2019 NBA Draft waters with fellow KU freshmen Quentin Grimes and Devon Dotson.

“I did for a little bit,” Agbaji, a 6-foot-5 wing out of Oak Park High School, acknowledged after Tuesday’s Kansas postseason basketball banquet at the Burge Union. “Let me work on my game here,” he added with a big smile.

Unlike Dotson and Grimes, Agbaji was not a McDonald’s All-American his senior in high school. In fact, he was the No. 145 player in the recruiting Class of 2018, according to Rivals.com.

Agbaji opened the season as a redshirt, but was activated for the Big 12 campaign by coach Bill Self in response to Udoka Azubuike’s season-ending hand injury. Agbaji averaged 8.5 points and 4.6 rebounds a game while logging 25.8 minutes per game in 22 games (16 starts). He hit 70 of 156 shots for 44.9 percent, including 23 of 75 threes for 30.7 percent.

“He was ranked, I could be wrong, I don’t want to short-sell him, 330th in the country (in high school). He wasn’t a guy everybody said, ‘You’ve got to get him,’’’ Self said of Agbaji, who chose KU over Texas A&M, Wisconsin, Nebraska, Oregon, Oklahoma State and others.

“All I know is after we got him he started to show everybody he could play. By midseason we knew what a dummy I was thinking we should redshirt him. He’s not going to be good, he’s going to be great,” Self added during his speech at the postseason hoops banquet.

Agbaji said he’s determined to work hard this offseason.

That will entail ... “everything in my game … handling the ball, shooting it a little better, leadership skills. too,” Agbaji said.

Agbaji would love to see KU’s four freshmen starters continue their college careers together. It’s believed Grimes is committed to staying in the draft and beginning his pro career in the 2019-20, however, while it’s believed there’s a good chance Dotson returns for a sophomore season. David McCormack, who started 13 games as a freshman, like Agbaji is not testing the waters.

“As far as that, yeah I’ll talk to them briefly, not sharing too much information or anything. I’m always there for support if they need anything,” Agbaji said of his teammates.

Marchiony announces retirement

Jim Marchiony, associate athletic director at Kansas the past 16 years, has decided to leave his position at KU, athletic director Jeff Long announced Thursday.

Marchiony has served as KU’s liaison with local and national media across the country, providing official KU statements on various matters. He also has served as the sport administrator for KU’s volleyball and tennis programs, and has worked closely with the coaches and student-athletes in those programs, as well as others.

“I’ve known Jim since his NCAA days (where he worked 18 years from 1984 to 2002) and was very pleased to work with him since my arrival,” Long said. “Jim is respected throughout college athletics because of his friendliness, sense of service, dedication and commitment. He will be missed — and frankly — you can’t replace Jim Marchiony. All of us in KU athletics wish Jim and Mary Beth the best in the next chapter of their lives.”

Marchiony’s wife, Mary Beth, is principal at Bishop Dunne Catholic School in Dallas, where Marchiony will relocate.

“I’ve been blessed by a long career in college athletics which I love dearly,” Marchiony, who has worked 43 years in college athletics, told The Star. “I have been honored to work with some of the best coaches and athletic directors in the country and I have truly enjoyed my relationship with so many members of the media.”

KU special assistant to the AD/basketball schedule maker Larry Keating also announced his retirement earlier this week after 16 years at KU.

“It’s been a real joy representing Kansas athletics for so long,” Marchiony stated, “especially alongside Larry Keating who I consider one of the great college administrators of our time.”

Of Marchiony, KU volleyball coach Ray Bechard said: “Jim has made an invaluable contribution to Kansas Athletics during his time in Lawrence. He cares deeply about the mission of this athletic department but was heavily invested in the student-athlete experience as well. His value won’t be measured in wins and losses, but more importantly by the impact he had on all those he worked with and his unwavering commitment to Kansas Athletics. We wish him nothing but the best.”

Hurt announcement Friday

Matthew Hurt, a 6-foot-9 senior forward from John Marshall High in Rochester, Minn., will announce his college choice at 3:15 p.m. Friday in a ceremony at the John Marshall High auditorium, KTTC-TV’s Pat Lund has reported.

Hurt, the No. 7-ranked player in the recruiting Class of 2019 by Rivals.com, has a final four of Kansas, Duke, Kentucky and North Carolina.

Several analysts believe Duke is the favorite to land Hurt, who averaged 36.8 points and 12.5 rebounds a game this past season for John Marshall. He averaged 14.0 points and 5.3 rebounds per game for Team USA in the FIBA Americas tournament last summer. KU’s Self was head coach of that team. Hurt has been a top recruiting priority for KU throughout Hurt’s senior season.

Stanley to announce Monday

Cassius Stanley, a 6-5 senior shooting guard from Sierra Canyon High in Chatsworth, California, will choose between KU, Duke, UCLA and Oregon on Monday, he reported Wednesday night on Twitter. He did not indicate a time for his announcement.

Stanley, the No. 33-ranked player in the recruiting Class of 2019 according to Rivals.com, averaged 17.8 points, 6.2 rebounds and 2.9 assists per game in 2018-19.

Various analysts believe Duke is the favorite. Stanley visited Duke last weekend.

“It was cool,” Stanley told USA Today of the Duke visit. He said the Blue Devils have been recruiting him the last month and a half.

“More than anything, it was good for me to see a school on another coast. It’s historic and they worship basketball there in North Carolina so that’s cool,” Stanley added.

Stanley is the second player from Sierra Canyon to be recruited in the last three years by Duke, which signed Marvin Bagley III in 2017. Stanley, like Hurt, is a player who has been on KU’s radar a long time.

“The last few months have been intense and a headache,” Stanley told USA Today. “I’m ready to be stress-free and happy again and know and be excited about where I’m going to college. It’s just time.”

Young, Releford added to TBT roster

Former KU guard Travis Releford and former KU forward Kevin Young will compete for the Jayhawks’ entry in the The Basketball Tournament, it was announced. The 6-foot-8 Young, 28, averaged 4.2 points and 4.9 rebounds a game in 41 games this past season for the NBA G-League’s Santa Cruz Warriors. The 6-foot-6 Releford, 29, has played for teams in Canada, Germany and Cyprus this season.

The two join Elijah Johnson, Landen Lucas and Perry Ellis as the first members of the team to be announced to the public.

The KU squad, which goes by the name “Self Made,” will be opening tourney play in the single-elimination event July 25-28 at Koch Arena in Wichita.

Winner of the eight-team event (KU, Kansas State, Wichita State alumni teams plus five others) will advance to the regional Aug. 1-6 in Chicago.

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