LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP)Versatile forward Ochai Agbaji and high-scoring point guard Remy Martin withdrew from the NBA draft Tuesday, opting instead to help Kansas chase a sixth national championship.
Agbaji announced his decision to return to the Jayhawks, whom he helped reach the second round of the NCAA Tournament, about two hours before Martin withdrew from the draft. The duo joined sophomore teammate Jalen Wilson in getting feedback from pro scouts before ultimately deciding to head back to school in Lawrence.
The deadline for players to withdraw from the draft was Wednesday.
”The main objective was to learn what I needed to do to get better and try to be the best player I can be,” said Martin, who starred for Arizona State last season but announced he was transferring to Kansas if he withdrew from the draft.
”It was pretty easy when it came to Kansas,” he said, ”playing for such a historic program and a Hall of Fame coach (in Bill Self). I want to be a part of it. I want to be part of the brotherhood and help the team win as much as I can.”
Agbaji led the Big 12 in 3-point field goals and was fourth in 3-point shooting last season, making more than 37% of his shots from behind the arc. He averaged 14.1 points on the season, and scored a career-best 26 vs. Oklahoma in the Big 12 title game, though he struggled in a blowout loss to Southern California in the NCAA Tournament.
He provides some veteran leadership for a team that should begin the season among the top five nationally. Agbaji has made 77 straight started and played in 83 games for Kansas, and he needs just 80 points to reach 1,000 for his career.
”We are all very excited Ochai has made the decision to return for one more year,” Self said. ”He did exactly what the process allows and encourages players considering the draft to do. He will be better for it and so will our basketball team. We believe Ochai is a first-round talent and I look forward to pushing him daily towards that.
”I can’t wait to have Ochai and our full complement of players here very soon.”
That now includes Martin, who led the Pac-12 in scoring at 19.1 points per game last season. He upped that average to 21.5 in conference play, helping him earn his third consecutive all-conference selection, and had four 30-point outings.
He also fills the biggest hole on the Kansas roster after last season: Someone who can create his own shot, get to the hoop and put up points while also running the show and getting his teammates involved.
Self said after the Jayhawks’ 81-59 loss to the Trojans in the NCAA Tournament that they needed to get more athletic, and he accomplished that in a couple ways. He landed a top-10 recruiting class of guards Kyle Cuffe Jr. and Bobby Pettiford and forwards K.J. Adams and Zach Clemence, and he struck the transfer market to land Martin along with Drake guard Joseph Yesufu, Iowa State guard Jalen Coleman-Lands and Missouri Southern post player Cam Martin.
Yesufu was a breakout star in the NCAA Tournament while Coleman-Lands gives the Jayhawks some outside shooting.
Throw in the fact that Kansas returns every notable player from last year’s roster except senior Marcus Garrett, who turned pro rather than use the extra year of eligibility provided by the NCAA during the pandemic, and the Jayhawks have perhaps the deepest and most talented roster in the Big 12 heading into next season.
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