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The student news site of Oak Park High School

Northmen News

The student news site of Oak Park High School

Northmen News

Update: Agbaji continues his pro career and support for young players

OP alumnus Ochai Agbaji carves a career out for himself in the NBA with the Utah Jazz, leading the way for current OP basketball stars. Agbaji isn’t putting up All-Star numbers, but he is making an impact for the Jazz, coming off the bench.

He was drafted 14th overall in the 2022 draft from Kansas University, Lawrence, fresh off the best college season of his career, where he was both the Big 12 player of the year and a consensus first team All American, culminating in a national championship win.

He’s a Northman through and through.

— athletic director Chad Valadez, Ed.D.

Agbaji isn’t the only professional player with connections to Oak Park. Sherron Collins, head coach of the mens basketball team played a season in the league before playing professionally overseas.

Collins, like Agbaji, was an All-American guard for KU, and won a national championship during his time in collegiate athletics. Now, as a coach, Collins said seeing a graduate like Agbaji is an inspiration for his team.

“It gives them something to look forward to, because Ochai was them,” Collins said. “And that’s what I explained to them, there’s a guy you know and seen do it, and he makes it possible for you to do it.”

Collins continued saying, “I think they get someone to look up to, somebody to chase, which is a great, (he is ) a great role model for them.”

Athletic director Chad Valadez, Ed.D., said he thinks it is important for the school to celebrate all athletes who have success in athletics beyond high school.

“I think anytime that you have somebody that you know wins a national championship at the collegiate level in any sport, or turns pro in any sport, I think that the biggest impact that has is in our community, our high school kids can say now, I knew him or I knew her. And they went through here just like I did. So anything, anything can be possible when you see and you’re connected to somebody.”

Valadez mentioned that despite Agbaji’s success, he’s stayed connected to the school.

“He’s a Northmen through and through,” Valadez said. “He has always been really good about remembering where he came from.”

Valadez said Agbaji was good about responding to the school, but Valadez knows he’s busy with his career in the NBA.

“You know, he’s also a young man that has a whole new life,” Valadez said. “If he needs something we’re here for him and you know, we try not to bug him too much with other things.”

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