I guess the question to me is if Ochai Agbaji, by his addition to this team, as currently built (i.e., no Silvio, no Doke) make this team a Final Four team?
If yes, burn the redshirt and get him in the rotation.
If no, keep the redshirt and let him be a workhorse for a Final Four team down the road.
I think Agbaji is good, and can get better. I think he makes this years team marginally better. But better is relative.
Let’s say you believe without Agbaji, this year’s team is an 83 on a scale of 1-100. With Agbaji they move up to 84 or 85. He has, by definition, made the team “better”. However, let’s say that the typical team that you expect to get to the Final Four is an 88. Yes, Agbaji made this team better, but he didn’t raise the level all the way to Final Four/National Champion caliber.
Now, you can say that this team, as currently built is an 85 already, and that Agbaji adds 4 points to the total, getting them to 89. In that scenario, I agree completely that its worth it. If, on the other hand, you think this team is just an 80, unless Agbaji adds 8 points to that total, it’s not worth it.
Part of my argument for that is that he’s already missed a significant portion of the season. KU has played 14 of their 31 expected regular season games. He’s missed almost half the season. If he’s not ready to play rotation minutes immediately (literally immediately, like ready to play anywhere from 12-25 minutes TONIGHT), then he will have missed basically half the season. Is half a season of Agbaji now worth sacrificing a full season later?
That’s what I keep coming back to. The benefit of now versus the benefit of the long run. I think Agbaji is good and can help along the margins. I think he can handle the physical play. I think he could provide a boost offensively. I think he can be a physical defender that guards 3 positions. All of those things move the needle to make a team better. Had Agbaji been available from day one, I would have had no problem with that because I think he’s ready to play D1 (presuming 100% health, which has to be assumed, otherwise this entire discussion is insane).
But if you pull Agbaji’s redshirt, this had better be a Final Four team because you are making an All-In type move and that’s the only way you can make it pay off. Pulling his redshirt for half a season that ends with a S16 or even E8 exit would be a waste. You’re not pulling (or shouldn’t be pulling) his redshirt to win the Big 12. That’s a waste. Pulling his redshirt is about national championship aspirations. Approaching it any other way isn’t considering the cost.