University of Kansas senior Ochai Agbaji shared a touching moment with his family after the Jayhawks defeated North Carolina Tar Heals 72-69 in the NCAA national championship game earlier this month.
The Kansas City Star reported that his father, Olofu Agbaji, embraced his son while uttering the words every athlete wants to hear after winning a championship.
“You’re a champion!” he said. “You’re a champion!”
Agbaji appeared emotional after the win as he reflected on the obstacles he had to overcome to enjoy the moment he shared with his parents and his sister.
“They’re the ones who know everything I’ve gone through,” Agbaji told The Star. “They know the path it’s taken for me to get to this point. Just to share that moment with them, man, that was special,” he explained.
During Agbaji’s senior year at Oak Park High School, he started to feel discouraged after not receiving a scholarship offer from a school with a Power 5 conference, even though coaches across the country were impressed with the then-high school senior’s athletic potential.
Though he was an exceptional basketball player, many believed his situation was the perfect example of Kansas City high school basketball being ignored. As a result, Agbaji weighed his options on whether he should accept a low-level offer in fear of not being offered a scholarship.
However, everything started to change for the basketball star after KU had called and offered him a scholarship to play for the Jayhawks. While he was ranked as the 334th best basketball player in his class, Agbaji’s mother, Erica, discussed her son’s next steps regarding his academic and athletic career.
“I don’t need to think about it,” he told her. “Bill Self just called me. I’m going to Kansas.”
Former KU basketball players, including Devon Dotson, praised the young star while sharing his thoughts with the outlet while reflecting on the team’s win.
“Just seeing his growth, his development, is amazing to me,” the former point guard said. “I didn’t see this happening, honestly. I mean, you knew, from seeing him in practice freshman year, the potential. But no, I didn’t know he’d reach this level.”
Brandon Rush and Mario Chalmers, former players of KU’s last championship team, reflected on Agbaji’s impressive record.
“That guy,” Rush would say, “might go down as having the best KU career in history.”
“Everything he went through, everything he sacrificed,” Olofu said. “This is why he did it. This is why he came back. He came back to do this.”