Sexton, Agbaji Happily Embracing New Home With Jazz

Sep 13, 2022, 1:50 PM | Updated: 1:50 pm


Ochai Agbaji and Collin Sexton of the Utah Jazz (Kristin Murphy, Deseret News)

(Kristin Murphy, Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY –  Ochai Agbaji and Collin Sexton have wasted little time getting to know the state of Utah after being traded to the Jazz last week.

Sexton, entering his fifth season in the NBA, and Agbaji, his first, were introduced officially on Tuesday after joining the Jazz in the Donovan Mitchell blockbuster, and both players carry big expectations with them into the state.

With the roster yet to be finalized, Sexton is the overwhelming front runner to assume the starring role for the young Jazz roster after a promising start to his career in Cleveland.

The guard averaged 24.3 points per game for the Cavaliers during the 2020-21 season before suffering a meniscus tear last November. Sexton said he was back to full health, but acknowledged the difficulties of getting back onto the court.

“It was some good days and bad days and some ups and downs but I got through some dark days where he felt like dang, I’m taking three steps back,” Sexton said of his rehab. “But at the end of the day — every day won’t be a good day, so I had to remember that and just continue to move forward.”

The Jazz signed Sexton to a four-year, $72 million deal which could be one of the league’s better bargains if he can regain his form prior to the injury to captain the less experienced roster.

“I’m excited just to just be one of the top leaders on the team and just be able to show the young guys away,” Sexton said.

Agbaji Enjoying Utah’s Scenery

While Sexton is looking to establish himself as the face of the Jazz, rookie Agbaji is already bonding with his teammates and taking in the state’s unique outdoor experiences.

“I like to go outside, just be in nature,” Agbaji said. “I actually went hiking yesterday with Johnny [Juzang].”

Like Juzang, Agbaji is one of four rookies on the Jazz roster along with Auburn product Walker Kessler and Italian forward Simone Fontecchio.

Having spent four seasons at Kansas and being named the NCAA Tournament Most Outstanding Player after leading the Jayhawks to the national title, Agbaji likely carries the biggest expectations of any Jazz rookie into training camp.

Whereas in Cleveland Agbaji may have struggled to see the floor on a team that is likely to compete for the playoffs, the rookie will get plenty of playing time to develop his game for the Jazz this season.

The 22-year-old discussed his offseason growth and mindset since being selected with the 14th overall pick in June’s draft.

“Being on that Cavs squad for summer league was good, it was good for me and good for my development,” Agbaji said. “But transition here, having more opportunities more and more chances to see the floor and make more of an impact, just keeping the same mindset continuing to better myself.”

Sexton, Agbaji, and the Jazz will open training camp on September 27.

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Sexton, Agbaji Happily Embracing New Home With Jazz