The Kentucky Wildcats have had several swings and misses for big men in the last several years.
One of the biggest was Oscar Tshiebwe in the Class of 2019, but Kentucky will ultimately get him anyway, as the West Virginia transfer just announced his commitment to the Wildcats via Tipton Edits. He later announced the news on his personal Twitter page
West Virginia transfer Oscar Tshiebwe has committed to Kentucky. pic.twitter.com/iUYCzO8g9u— Tipton Edits (@TiptonEdits) January 10, 2021
I am grateful for the time I spent at West Virginia, and the lessons that I learned. I’ve spent a lot of time praying to God to help me make the best decision for my future. I am excited for this new chapter of my life. I will continue my career at the University of Kentucky #BBN pic.twitter.com/rm08UwtDBI— Big O (@Oscartshiebwe34) January 11, 2021
Coming out of high school, Tshiebwe was the No. 8 center and No. 22 overall player in the class according to 247 Sports, and he was selected as a McDonald’s All-American.
When it came decision time, Tshiebwe picked the West Virginia Mountaineers over Kentucky, Baylor, and Illinois. But as of today, he is finally headed to Lexington.
In Tshiebwe’s first season at West Virginia, the 6-9 big man nearly averaged a double-double. In putting up 11.2 points and 9.3 rebounds per game, he led the Mountaineers in both categories and showed a lot of the promise that many expected from him at the college level. ESPN ranked him 10th among all college basketball players coming into the 2020-21 season.
In the first 10 games of the 2020-2021 season, however, his minutes have steadily declined and he has been unable to put up those same numbers.
In those 10 games, he averaged just 8.5 points and 7.8 rebounds. In the last five games he suited up for the Mountaineers, he saw fewer minutes that his backup center, Gabe Osabuohien.
After those first 10 outings, Tshiebwe left the West Virginia campus and cited “personal reasons” for leaving the university and the program. Shortly after, he entered the NCAA transfer portal.
This time around, his college decision came down to North Carolina State, Illinois, Kentucky, and Miami. Many believed Miami and Kentucky to be the two finalists. After a short recruitment and meeting with all of the schools virtually, Tshiebwe announced his final decision today on Twitter.
Tshiebwe will now enroll at Kentucky for the second semester and sit out the remainder of the season before playing next year as a sophomore. If the one-time transfer rule passes, Tshiebwe will be eligible for the entire season. But if it doesn’t pass and he can’t get a waiver, Tshiebwe will have to wait until the second semester before he can play due to NCAA transfer rules.
Joining Tshiebwe next fall in Kentucky’s frontcourt will be 6-9 phenom Daimion Collins and former Louisville commit Bryce Hopkins. There may also be some returning talent from this year’s team to form quite the formidable stable of big men. Keion Brooks Jr., Jacob Toppin and Cam’Ron Fletcher don’t appear likely to be drafted, though Brooks could be if he keeps playing like he did in his season debut.
This is quite the turnaround from previous classes where Calipari had such a hard time landing frontcourt talent.
Welcome to Lexington, Oscar Tshiebwe.