Oscar Tshiebwe, the talented big man who transferred to Kentucky from West Virginia prior to the 2021-22 season, has declared for the NBA draft. The 23-year-old Congolese native made the announcement on his Instagram page last Friday.
— Big O (@Oscartshiebwe34) April 7, 2023
Tshiebwe, who was named National Player of the Year, led Division I with an impressive 15.2 rebounds per game and also averaged 17.4 points and 1.6 blocks per game in his debut season with the Wildcats. While he wasn’t able to replicate those numbers in his second season, he still managed to put up solid averages of 16.5 points and 13.7 rebounds per game.
Despite his dominant performances in college, Tshiebwe has not been considered a highly-touted NBA prospect. In fact, Bleacher Report’s Jonathan Wasserman did not include him in his most recent two-round mock draft. This leaves the door open for Tshiebwe to return to Lexington next season, as he has maintained his college eligibility.
It remains to be seen how Tshiebwe’s draft stock will fare over the next few months. If he does decide to return to Kentucky, the Wildcats will have a bright outlook for the upcoming season. Despite the potential absence of Tshiebwe and freshman guard Cason Wallace, who Wasserman had going ninth overall to the Utah Jazz, Kentucky still boasts the No. 1 recruiting class in the 2023 cycle, according to 247 Sports’ composite rankings.
Coach John Calipari has signed four 5-star recruits, including the No. 2, No. 3, and No. 4 players in the class in Justin Edwards, DJ Wagner, and Aaron Bradshaw, respectively. With this impressive recruiting class, Kentucky will look to bounce back from a disappointing 9th place finish in the SEC this past season and make a deep run in the NCAA tournament.
In any case, Tshiebwe’s decision to declare for the NBA draft marks the end of an impressive college career and the beginning of a new chapter for the talented big man.
The Rise of Oscar Tshiebwe: A Dominant Force in College Basketball and Journey to NBA
Oscar Tshiebwe, the two-time All-American basketball player, could return to Kentucky next season, according to ESPN college basketball analyst Seth Greenberg. Tshiebwe became the first college basketball national player of the year to return since Tyler Hansbrough in 2008. Tshiebwe and North Carolina’s Armando Bacot, both projected as late second-round picks, could stand to earn much more at the college level. Tshiebwe ranks in the top 10 in rebounds, top 25 in blocks, top 30 in steals, and the top 50 in points. Over two seasons, he amassed 48 double-doubles, the second-most ever at Kentucky behind Dan Issel.
Tshiebwe recorded eight 20-rebound games, while all Kentucky players since 1970-71 have combined for seven such games. In three career NCAA Tournament games, Tshiebwe totaled 63 points and 59 rebounds, an average of 21 points and 19.6 rebounds, but UK went just 1-2. Tshiebwe became the school’s second consensus national player of the year after Anthony Davis after averaging 17.4 points and 15.1 rebounds. He led the nation with 13.7 rebounds per game this season.