Ochai Agbaji’s high school community thrilled for KU star’s success

Published: Apr. 5, 2022 at 7:51 PM CDT
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KANSAS CITY, Mo. (KCTV) - Ochai Agbaji was named the most outstanding player after yesterday’s incredible comeback victory for the Jayhawks to win the national championship.

Ochai’s success has left a major impact on many people including those still at his former Oak Park High School.

“I played second base and I pitched but I don’t really pitch a lot anymore”, says Anthony Valadez.

Anthony is currently a baseball player for Oak Park High school, but back in eighth grade, he was a football player.

“I got a pretty serious neck injury so I couldn’t really do anything sporting-wise,” says Anthony.

To keep him involved in sports, an Oak Park High basketball coach suggested he help manage their basketball team, a team that featured several local standouts including Ochai Agbaji.

“It was really fun for me to be around older people like that, and it was like a really good time for me to enjoy,” says Anthony.

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Now as Valadez goes on to pursue his own sports dream on the diamond, he says the moments he shared with Agbaji and the squad has helped him grow.

“Definitely showed me how to be a true leader on a sports team and how to talk with my teammates,” says Anthony.

Anthony isn’t the only Valadez that was able to take away a lot from Agbaji.

Anthony’s dad, Chad, is currently the activities director at the school, but when Agbaji was attending, he was the assistant principal.

“Ochai grinded for everything that he did, and it didn’t stop when he left Oak Park. The stories out there on Ochai, he took off his junior, senior year,” says Chad.

An emergence in his game, and the team, that Chad remembers brought many people to the games.

“Remember playing North Kansas City high school down there in their old gym and it didn’t seat as many as the new one and they had to lock the doors, it was too full,” says Chad.

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Great years for the school’s basketball program, that Chad and the community will always cherish.

With Agbaji now an NCAA champion, and a potential prospect for the NBA, the community and the school district he will forever call home, is ready to cheer on his next move.

“We are here for him as an Oak Park family for whatever he needs from us and he’s very good about reciprocating that and remembering where he came from,” says Chad.

Jokingly, Chad says he’s glad Ochai is done with college, so he can now go back to rooting for his Mizzou Tigers.