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UK reaches out to highly-touted transfers Oscar Tshiebwe and Caleb Mills

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UK is already looking at several transfers for next season.

NCAA Basketball: Baylor at West Virginia Ben Queen-USA TODAY Sports

If there’s anything to be taken away from the Kentucky Wildcats’ 3-6 start to the 2020-21 season, it’s that having experience. Thus, when building next season’s roster, the transfer portal will be an important tool to utilize.

One name now in the portal that Kentucky could look to pursue is big man Oscar Tshiebwe. The 6-9 forward entered the portal Tuesday after one and a half seasons with the West Virginia Mountaineers.

Now, Kentucky has reportedly reached out to Tshiebwe, according to Ben Roberts of the Herald-Leader.

The Herald-Leader has learned that UK was among the first schools to reach out to Tshiebwe, a former Wildcats recruiting target who took an official visit to Lexington during his initial recruiting process.

As a freshman last season, Tshiebwe played in 31 games and averaged 11.2 points, 9.3 rebounds and one block per game. His strong freshman season earned him Big 12 All-Freshman team and All-Big 12 Second-Team honors. In 10 games this season, the forward averaged 8.5 points with 7.8 rebounds.

Tshiebwe was rated as a five-star recruit out of high school in 2019 and was named a McDonalds All-American.

One team to pursue the five-star was the Kentucky Wildcats as he wound up choosing West Virginia over UK, Baylor, Kansas, Illinois and several others.

Now in the portal, UK may look to land Tshiebwe this time around as they hope to add experience to next year’s roster that in addition to at least three incoming freshmen (Nolan Hickman, Bryce Hopkins and Daimion Collins) figure to have several returners from this year’s roster.

Elsewhere, Kentucky could be looking to bolster its backcourt with another highly-touted transfer. According to 247 Sports’ Brandon Jenkins, Kentucky has reached out to Houston Cougars guard Caleb Mills, who just entered the portal this week.

Sources have indicated to 247Sports that Kentucky, North Carolina, and Texas have inquired about Mills and the level of interest that he would have in their programs. Expect more big-time programs to do the same.

Mills, a 6-3 redshirt sophomore, was the ACC Preseason Player of the Year after averaging 13.2 points and hitting 36.5% from deep for the Cougars last season, who went 23-8 and won a share of the conference. Battling an ankle injury this season, Mills is averaging just 9.8 points on 44.8% shooting per game in 19 minutes per game, and his three-point shooting has dipped to 25%.

This could end up being a similar situation to Davion Mintz, who entered the 2019-20 season projected to be one of Creighton’s top players, but a preseason injury led to him missing the start of the season before he eventually opted to redshirt and enter the portal. Mintz has certainly been an important piece for the 2020-21 Wildcats, so perhaps Mills can follow a similar path.

It’s early, but both Tshiebwe and Mills will likely end up being among the top 5-10 transfers for next season. And they could both make a big impact for the 2021-22 Wildcats, who figure to lose Mintz and Olivier Sarr, while guys like Isaiah Jackson, Brandon Boston and Terrence Clarke could all end up entering the NBA Draft.

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