At the beginning of the series, Sakuragi is a slacker, good for nothing other than fighting delinquent, who's the leader of the feared "Sakuragi Legion", which consists of his four friends Mito, Noma, Ohkusu and Takamiya. Sakuragi's quest for love is nothing but humiliating. He is always trying to ask girls out, but is rejected constantly, the fiftieth rejection occurring at the start of the series. He then met Haruko Akagi, a lovely and friendly basketball fangirl, whom he fell in love with, immediately. Haruko's encouragement led to him to join the Shohoku basketball team. However, as a complete beginner, he is not able to keep up with the rest of the team at first, despite his physical attributes. With just 4 months, he has become a fully realized basketball player and is now considered a player that Shohoku cannot afford to lose.
Throughout the manga, he is very short tempered, arrogant and aggressive. He begins regarding himself as a "Genius", even though he has not learned any skills. He also brags himself as the "Rebound King" when his rebounding ability has just started to surface, which was accepted and considered as valid. His most recognizable trait is his red hair and shaves it as reparation for an error that led to a loss in the interhigh tournament against Kainan.
He is not the type to accept loss. His persistence started to get into Fukuda when he was totally outplayed at the 1st half of their game though, it was just settled during the practice match against the combined team of Shoyo and Ryonan.
Sakuragi has a habit of making fun of other players by giving nicknames other than their names. He calls Akagi "gorilla or gori", Uozumi "Boss monkey", Kiyota "Wild monkey", Maki "Uncle or Senior", Masahiro "Totem pole", Masashi Kawata "Bald Gori", Mikio Kawata "Meatball", Miyamasu "Alien" and Fujima "substitute". Despite this, the only one doing the same thing to Sakuragi is Kiyota who calls him "red haired monkey". The only one who was not given a nickname by him is Kaede Rukawa who he considers as his rival in basketball and in Haruko.
In spite of the setbacks he has had to face, Sakuragi displays a great deal of tenacity and determination that carry him through and help reciprocate for his other failings, both on and off the court. He also knows how to carry a will of a teammate. These was shown when he told Kogure of postponing his retirement for a while because of him who is a genius.
Although his love for Haruko and rivalry with Rukawa are the main driving forces motivating him to succeed in basketball, his injury during the Sannoh match made him realize that he has actually come to love the game, leading him to give his all for the team and bring them victory. [Source: wikia]
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