New Orleans–Kansas guard Ochai Agbaji was named the NCAA Tournament’s Outstanding Player Monday after the Jayhawks’ 72-69 win over North Carolina in the national championship game.
Agbaji, a senior from Kansas City, Missouri, earned the honor after scoring 12 points in 37 minutes as Kansas won its sixth national championship and first since 2008.
Agbaji, a consensus first-team All-American and unanimous Big 12 Player of the Year this season, averaged 17.8 points and 4.7 rebounds while going 30 to during the NCAA tournament’s six-game run 65 (46.1%) shot.
The only other players who have won the award and played for the Jayhawks are Clyde Lovellette, BH Born, Wilt Chamberlain, Danny Manning and Mario Chalmers. Born, who won in 1953, and Chamberlain, who won in 1957, earned the honor despite not winning the national championship. Lovellette (1952), Manning (1988), and Chalmers (2008) did.
Agbaji, the Big 12’s regular-season leading scorer at 19.8 points per game, struggled to score in the opening rounds of the NCAA tournament. He had 11 points in the first round against Texas Southern, 15 points in a narrow win over Creighton in the second round, and had a season-low five points in the Sweet 16 win over Providence.
But he helped lead the Jayhawks to an Elite Eight win over Miami when he scored a team-high 18 points on 8-of-12 shooting and then set a Final Four record by scoring 85.7 % (6 of 7) shot 3-point range in the 81-65 win over Villanova which he finished with 21 points.
In addition to Agbaji, the all-tournament team included KU’s David McCormack, North Carolina’s Caleb Love and Armando Bacot, and Duke’s Paolo Banchero.
“He’s the most accomplished player we’ve had at our varsity since Danny[Manning],” said coach Bill Self. “To think four years win the national championship, win the league, win the Big 12 tournament, win the NCAA tournament to be the most outstanding player — we might have had some guys who had comparable years but never had someone tops out like what he has except D.”
As he has received a variety of awards throughout the season, Agbaji downplayed the importance of the award after the game.
“I don’t really care because we won the national championship,” said Agbaji. “If I really had one standout player throughout the Final Four, it would be David.”
Agbaji, who still has one year of eligibility because the NCAA allowed players an extra season early in the COVID-19 pandemic, has made it clear he intends to leave Kansas to pursue a professional career. He is expected to be selected in the first round of the NBA draft, which takes place on June 23.