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New Jazz players Collin Sexton and Ochai Agbaji excited to be in Utah, looking forward to new era

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Utah Jazz guards Ochai Agbaji and Collin Sexton talk to members of the media.

Utah Jazz guards Ochai Agbaji, left, and Collin Sexton talk to members of the media during a press conference at the Zions Bank Basketball Campus in Salt Lake City on Tuesday, Sept. 13, 2022.

Kristin Murphy, Deseret News

New Utah Jazz players Collin Sexton and Ochai Agbaji have only been in Utah for a week, but they’re already taking advantage of what the state has to offer.

Sexton and Agbaji have been hiking and taking in Utah’s natural beauty.

“It was nice. (The hike) was like 20 minutes away, which is crazy. You can drive 20 minutes and you’re already in somewhere that’s so beautiful,” Agbaji said.

Agbaji, who won a national championship with Kansas in April and was named the MVP of the NCAA Tournament, isn’t in Kansas anymore.

“It’s not like Kansas, obviously. I’m used to just flat plains, but you walk outside and you get a nice mountain view everywhere you look, basically. So it’s it’s been nice. Always been in a good mood, just good vibes, good energy,” Agbaji said.

Sexton is also enjoying the Utah vistas.

“I would say the mountains is something that I never really paid attention to. So it’s kind of cool to see the good views and just watch the sunrise and the sunset as well,” Sexton said.

On Saturday, Sexton took in Utah football’s game against Southern Utah at Rice-Eccles Stadium.

Sexton and Agbaji are already getting familiar with the organization, including new head coach Will Hardy.

“Yesterday was able to catch up. He’s understanding that we’re gonna be young, but he also understands like it’s gonna be fun and I can’t wait to just be coached by him just cuz his energy and how he, he talks to us and how he’s so uplifted and how he has high spirits each and every day,” Sexton said “That rubs off on everybody in the building as well.”

“I would say everybody in the organization, everybody in the building has real good energy. And he’ll (Agbaji) attest to you that each and every day we’ve been here has been fun. It’s definitely been fun, but we’ve been putting in work for sure.”

Sexton and Agbaji both came to Utah from Cleveland as part of the Donovan Mitchell trade, along with Lauri Markkanen, who is currently playing in EuroBasket 2022.

Sexton has four years of NBA experience under his belt. He played just 11 games last year for the Cavaliers before suffering a torn left meniscus, which ended his season early.

“It’s kind of cool to see the good views and just watch the sunrise and the sunset as well.” — Utah Jazz guard Collin Sexton

The 6-foot-1, 190-pound guard was coming off the best season of his career prior to the injury, averaging 24.3 points, 3.1 rebounds and 4.4 assists per game in 2020-21.

Now, he says he is 100% healthy.

Sexton arrived in Utah via a sign-and-trade deal. He signed a four-year, $72 million contract extension that would keep him in Utah through the 2025-26 season.

“I just know my agent was pretty much just telling me just to stay patient and everything will work out now we be playing whether it was in Cleveland or another team, I will be wearing an NBA jersey. So that was pretty much my mindset. I just wanted to just continue to work on the things that I needed to improve on and I let the rest take care of itself,” Sexton said.

Agbaji was drafted by the Cavaliers with the 14th overall pick in the 2022 draft before being traded to the Jazz on Sep. 1.

“When I first found out about the trade, it was just kind of my, like welcome to the NBA moment. I didn’t play a single game, a single minute of NBA action and I already have been traded,” Agbaji said. “So I just see it as good opportunity, anywhere where I had ended up, I think would’ve been a good opportunity for me and I’m gonna make the best of it, but I’m excited to be here.”

The 6-foot-5, 210-pound guard averaged 18.8 points and 5.1 rebounds for Kansas last season and scored 12 points in Kansas’ 72-69 win over North Carolina in the NCAA championship game.

“Just taking it day by day, controlling what we can control day by day, as far as working hard building a good culture around this, in a way, new organization, new front office, new players, all that. So just building a new culture growing the culture that the guys here in Utah originally had and pushing that forward,” Agbaji said.

Utah Jazz guards Ochai Agbaji and Collin Sexton talk to members of the media.

Utah Jazz guards Ochai Agbaji, left, and Collin Sexton talk to members of the media during a press conference at the Zions Bank Basketball Campus in Salt Lake City on Tuesday, Sept. 13, 2022.

Kristin Murphy, Deseret News