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Home Sports Meet Ochai Agbaji of Nigerian Heritage Picked in the 2022 NBA Draft to Join the Cleveland Cavaliers
Sports - June 29, 2022

Meet Ochai Agbaji of Nigerian Heritage Picked in the 2022 NBA Draft to Join the Cleveland Cavaliers

Ochai Young Agbaji, who was selected with the 14th overall choice in the 2022 NBA Draft, is an American professional basketball player for the Cleveland Cavaliers of the National Basketball Association (NBA). He was born on April 20, 2000.

Agbaji,is a native of Kansas City, Missouri, initially intended to play soccer in college. Throughout his first three years of high school, he was not a highly-touted recruit.

At the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, both of Agbaji’s parents were basketball players, but mid-major colleges weren’t interested in signing him until his senior year of high school when he averaged 27.6 points and 8.6 rebounds for Oak Park after experiencing a growth spurt that made him 6-5.

When a Kansas assistant coach learned about Agbaji, the three-star prospect made the decision to enrol at Jayhawk. Agbaji attended Kansas, where he made consistent progress each year. He declared for the 2021 NBA Draft, went to the combine, got feedback about his draft position, took it to heart, and came back to Kansas for his senior year.

High hopes were held for Agabji upon his return. He outperformed them all, winning Big 12 Player of the Year accolades, being selected to the First Team All-American by the majority of voters, and guiding the Jayhawks to their first NCAA title since 2008. He finished off his unlikely comeback by winning Most Outstanding Player at the NCAA Final Four.


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NBA 2022 Draft 

In Brooklyn, New York, at Barclays Center, the National Basketball Association (NBA) held its annual Draft 2022. The 76th edition of the annual draft, which had 58 selections, was held this year.

Ochai Agbaji, who is of Nigerian heritage, was selected with the No. 14 overall choice in this year’s annual draft after guiding Kansas to their first NCAA Men’s Division I Basketball Tournament since 2008. 

I just want to thank the organisation and Cleveland for drafting me, believing in me,” Agbaji said. “I’m going to give you 110 percent every single day and a positive attitude. I’m going to be a hard worker. Come in, be humble and represent my city well.”

The Cleveland Cavaliers selected the 22-year-old Nigerian-born player, joining another emerging star of Nigerian descent, Isaac Okoro, on the squad who was chosen in the 2020 NBA draft.

“The shooting piece was important,” president of basketball operations Koby Altman said. “The fact he can play wing, the fact he can guard wing is great. I don’t know if that went into it so much as the need for shooting.”

“I don’t want to put him on a pedestal and say, ‘This is the next great wing that we draft.’ But maybe it is. I do know that he fits a need right away and he’s going to compete and he has that winning pedigree that we really like,” he added.

Other Africans chosen in the NBA 2022 draft include Christian Koloko of Cameroon at number 33, Khalifa Diop of Senegal at number 39, and Yannick Nzosa of the DR Congo at number 54.


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