Saturday, May 21, 2022

2022 Final Four: Ochai Agbaji wins Most Outstanding Player, but was he the most deserving Kansas star?

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Kansas All-American Ochai Agbaji was named the 2022 Final Four Most Outstanding Player on Monday night following the Jayhawks’ record-breaking comeback to top North Carolina 72-69 in the national championship game. Agbaji scored 33 points over the two games, including a near-perfect shooting performance against Villanova in the Final Four. Agbaji shot 6 of 8 against the Wildcats, including a 6-of-7 mark from behind the 3-point arc as he poured in 21 points — by far his best marksmanship in more than a month.

Against North Carolina, Agbaji finished with 12 points on 4-of-9 shooting, but he led the Jayhawks in scoring in the first half with eight points when Kansas couldn’t buy a bucket. Additionally, one of his second-half plays was among the game’s biggest when he laid the ball in through contact and converted the and-one at the free throw line to tie the game at 50-all. That marked the first time Kansas had pulled even since North Carolina built an advantage that swelled to as many as 16 points. 

The decision of Agbaji was an interesting one. Remy Martin, while he didn’t have a great game against Villanova, scored 11 second-half points and hit several huge shots in the national championship game. Then there’s David McCormack, who clubbed Villanova with a 25-point, nine-rebound effort, then had 15 points and 10 rebounds against North Carolina, including Kansas’ final four points. And Jalen Wilson added 11 points, 12 rebounds and five assists against Villanova while tying McCormack with a team-high 15 in the finale.

So why might there be some angst over who won the award? The winner’s jersey would have gone promptly to the Allen Fieldhouse rafters, joining 2008 Final Four Most Outstanding Player Mario Chalmers. As a consensus first-team All-American and Big 12 Player of the Year, Agbaji’s jersey already met the requirements for enshrinement. 

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