Jazz Guard Ochai Agbaji Speaks On Path To Utah, Rookie Experience
SALT LAKE CITY – In a recent interview, Jazz rookie Ochai Agbaji talked about being traded to the Jazz and how his rookie season has gone so far.
Kansas Jayhawk Turned Utah Jazz
Agbaji was surprised by his trade before the season. He said he was close to moving into a place in Ohio before he got the news.
“It really did catch me off guard,” Agbaji said. “I was about to move into my place in Cleveland, and then I got the news that I was traded here. It switched up pretty fast, it came out of nowhere.”
There was a lot of change in the Jazz organization prior to Agbaji’s arrival. From front office to coaches and players, there was a lot of new faces in Salt Lake City. Agbaji said that the transition was as smooth as you could hope for.
“Going in, like any other rookie, there’s a lot of things you got to learn,” Agbaji said. “But, coming in with a new staff and new coaches and a lot of new (players), I think we all collectively helped each other. The veteran guys were really helpful with the rookie guys and the younger guys. It’s been nice to have those resources.”
The transition from college to the professionals is a hard one for many. Especially in the NBA because of the 82-game season. Agbaji admitted that it is tough, but he embraces the challenge.
“We’ve already played a whole NCAA college season… and more,” Agbaji said. “It’s nice because there’s a lot of basketball. So, there’s a lot of opportunities to go out and prove yourself. Going into the season, I expected it to be long. I try to remain present and take it game-by-game.”
The Jazz have been one of the most surprising teams in the NBA this season. Even with so many moving parts, Agbaji said that the chemistry is there for the Jazz.
“We have a lot of fun,” Agbaji said. “All of the guys have a good attitude and high spirits. It’s always fun being around this group of guys and competing against them. That’s another thing we do really well, just compete and get after each other every single day.”
Ochai Agbaji In His Rookie Year
Agbaji is averaging 4 points and 1.6 rebounds in 12 minutes a game. He is shooting efficiently as well at 47.8% from the field and 36% from three.
The Jazz rookie did not make the Rising Stars challenge this year in Salt Lake City. It was announced earlier today that teammate Walker Kessler did make the cut.
Like most rookies, Agbaji has gone through hot and cold streaks. Regardless, his potential and his motor is on display every night.
Ochai Agbaji will be the Jazz best on-ball defender as soon as next season.
He has some really strong possessions both on and off ball, but still needs to get used to some tendencies like shot fakes and step throughs.
But he’s got all the tools and seems to want to compete.
— Ben Anderson (@BensHoops) January 29, 2023
The Jazz are seen as a team that could be active at this years trade deadline. Despite this, some reports say that the Jazz have three pieces that they really want to keep around. Lauri Markkanen, Walker Kessler, and Ochai Agbaji.
Chandler Holt is a Digital Sports Producer for KSLSports.com, specializing in all things basketball and football. Follow Chandler on Twitter at @ChandlerHoltKSL.
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