Oscar Tshiebwe’s time in Lexington might have just came to a close. The senior announced his decision on Instagram Friday afternoon, stating that he did plan to enter his name into the NBA Draft to get a feel of what his evaluation would be, while still retaining his eligibility to return for another season in college if need be.
The back-to-back Wooden Award winner stated exactly, “First, I would like to thank God for everything he has done for me! It has been amazing to see the many blessings he has shown me through my time at the University of Kentucky. I would like to thank my family and everyone who has supported me over the years while working towards my dream. I would also like to thank Coach Calipari and the coaching staff for believing in a kid from the Congo, as well as my teammates for standing beside me and fighting everyday. At this time I feel as though it is best for me to declare for the NBA draft while maintaining my college eligibility. As I continue down this path I pray that I can continue to have the amazing love and support of the BBN as you will always be in my heart and prayers. Only God knows what my future holds, but until then it’s time to get to work!”
The big man had one of the best seasons last year that this school has ever seen in its entire history. A statement like that around these streets sure does hold a lot of weight. The amount of talent that has came through here all-time, including just the last decade, has been crazy good. While most of that had been freshmen prospects that were projected way-early to be successful, it was cool to see it take place in a different form as in a transfer who couldn’t find his fitting at another school (West Virginia), and transferred to his “dream school”, finding his way and becoming the National Player of the Year. It truly was an inspiring season that was stacked full of individual accolades.
Oscar’s goal last offseason was to come back and chase “Number nine” after having won every individual award one could hope for in his first year. But ultimately after two postseasons, the 1-2 run just wasn’t enough to cut it and ended them both in rather disappointing finishes. He has always mentioned that it was his dream to accomplish that feat here, but it looks likely that may never come true. While many don’t see a return in the future, if he doesn’t hear exactly what he wants from the next level, then that option is still technically on the table. ESPN’s Seth Greenberg says he believes he’ll see Oscar in Lexington next year, but that’s about the only report I’ve seen saying so. I don’t think he will be, but it is still definitely possible. Some have even reported that if he was to return to college, he could hit the portal. I don’t have any clue myself, but if I was a betting man, I’d think he’d go make a new home overseas and earn the praise from another fanbase for two decades straight while making a great living doing so.
The two-and-a-half year Wildcat grabbed 952 rebounds, scored 1,117 points, made 433 shots, totaled 87 blocks and 86 assists alongside 112 total steals, all in just 66 games. His efforts on the boards matched none, literally, and it got to moments where a 20 (point) and 15 (rebound) game became expected of him. We will not see a player like him for another 30+ years and I want you to hold me to that statement until that day arrives. Oscar was and is, one of one.
“Oscar fulfilled one dream by being a Kentucky basketball player, but he’s ready to chase this next dream,” Calipari said. “There is no player in that league like Oscar. He’s also an ideal player to have in your locker room because he will truly care about his teammates, the organization and the community. I’m excited for Oscar to go through this process to see if it’s his time to live out his ultimate goal.”
He became a fan favorite here really fast and so I know I speak for many when I say that he will be missed. Unfortunately, I just don’t see how he fits in on next year’s roster and this might be the time for a mutual and comforting exit so that his amazing career doesn’t get diminished by forcing a third year to work… Oscar, I’ll be rooting you on the rest of the way with no doubt in my mind. Thank you for a great two seasons. You sir, are a Wildcat forever. When the jersey goes up (into the rafters), that will further cement that.