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Senior Ochai Agbaji makes his way up the middle of the court during the first half of the Elite Eight matchup against Miami on Sunday, Mar. 27. The Jayhawks defeated the Hurricanes 76-50. 

Despite struggles to find his footing this season, former Kansas guard Ochai Agbaji has begun to show flashes of his historic Jayhawk career over the past two games. The emergence of Agbaji’s success over the past week was highlighted by a career-high 19 points against the Chicago Bulls on Saturday. 

Though the Utah Jazz ultimately fell to the Bulls 126-118, Agbaji was perfect from the field, going seven-for-seven while sinking four three-pointers in 21 minutes played. 

Going into Saturday’s contest, the former Jayhawk was only averaging two points per game, but as Jazz head coach Will Hardy begins to give the rookie minutes off the bench, Agbaji has been able to show off the skills that earned him the unanimous Big 12 Conference Player of the Year and consensus All-America First Team Honors in his final season wearing the crimson and blue. 

"It was time to try to get him some minutes and see how he did," Hardy said. “I'm not gonna sit here and pretend like I saw this coming… But I think as a staff, we were very confident that his approach was going to be correct and that he was ready to dig in mentally to play in an NBA game.” 

Agbaji’s performance might live in the shadows of what power forward Lauri Markkanen did– Markkanen drained 28 points and recorded a career-high eight dunks on a court that he used to call home– but Hardy wanted to make sure Agbaji received the recognition he deserved after the start to the season he’s had. 

"I think it's obvious who the game ball goes to," Hardy said postgame. "It goes to Ochai Agbaji."

Agbaji’s Saturday stat line is the second consecutive game in which he recorded career-high numbers, tallying 11 points against the Houston Rockets on Jan. 5 in the Jazz’s 131-114 victory. 

“He’s been working hard,” Markkanen said when asked about Agbaji’s recent career nights. “I’m happy he gets the opportunity, and he’s taken advantage of it. We see him every day, put that time in, and I’m happy for him. We’re going to need him in the future, for sure.”

The former Jayhawk hasn’t seen much of the court for the Jazz this season, averaging 9.1 minutes per game, but Agbaji hasn’t let that stop him.  

“Just showing up every single day with a good attitude,” Agbaji answered when asked about his patience this season following the Jazz’s victory over the Rockets. “Not worrying about all the outside noise, but everyone in the Jazz and what they’re doing for me.” 

In his final year at Kansas, Agbaji led the Jayhawks to their fourth NCAA national championship, averaging 18.8 points per game while shooting 47.5% from the field and 40.9% in three-point range.