“Kentucky just felt like the perfect place for me,” Tshiebwe said in a press release. “I love the way they play, the coaches’ players-first approach and just how Kentucky felt like home to me. I’m looking forward to coming in and helping the team this year in practice and I can’t wait to compete for Big Blue Nation.”
Tshiebwe, a 6-9, 260-pound forward with a 7-5 wingspan, will join the team immediately but sit out until the 2021-22 season due to NCAA transfer rules.
“We recruited Oscar two years ago and absolutely fell in love with his effort, his energy and his desire to improve,” UK head coach John Calipari said in a press release. “Oscar has a rare combination of strength and skill with tremendous length, not to mention he’s a wonderful kid. There is no question his time at West Virginia was well spent playing for a terrific coach and friend in Bob Huggins. Oscar won’t be able to play for us this season but we’re looking forward to getting him here and be a part of this culture. He will really help us in practice.”
Tshiebwe made an instant impact at West Virginia, playing and starting in all 31 games as a freshman. He led the Mountaineers in scoring (11.2 points per game), rebounding (9.3 boards per game) and blocks (1.0) in 23.3 minutes per game, helping guide West Virginia to a 21-10 record. He shot 55.2% from the floor and 70.8% from the free-throw line.
Tshiebwe was named to the All-Big 12 Second Team and was a unanimous selection to the Big 12 All-Freshman Team. He also made the Big 12 All-Newcomer Team, the National Association of Basketball Coaches District 8 First Team, the U.S. Basketball Writers Association District II Team and the Academic Big 12 All-Rookie Team.
The Congo native scored in double figures in a team-high 19 games and posted 10 double-doubles. He was first in the Big 12 in offensive rebounds per game with 4.1, second in rebounding and led the country in offensive rebounding percentage (19.0%)
Tshiebwe was off to another solid start this season, averaging 8.5 points on 52.3% shooting in addition to 7.8 rebounds. In his last game, on Dec. 29, he recorded 12 points and 15 rebounds in 21 minutes.
Prior to West Virginia, Tshiebwe was a five-star prospect by Rivals and 247 Sports. He was a McDonald’s All American after leading Kennedy Catholic High School (Hermitage, Pennsylvania) to a 27-3 record and the Pennsylvania 6A state title as a senior.
Tshiebwe averaged 23.2 points as a senior and scored 1,480 points during his high school career. He was the 2019 Gatorade Pennsylvania Boys Basketball Player of the Year.
Originally from Lubumbashi, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Tshiebwe will be the fourth newcomer to the 2021-22 team. UK already signed highly rated forwards Daimion Collins and Bryce Hopkins and guard Nolan Hickman during the fall signing period. All three players are consensus four or five-star prospects and all are ranked in the top 50 by at least one major national recruiting service.