Oscar Tshiebwe has been an absolute beast for the Kentucky Wildcats this season.
Averaging 17 points and 15 rebounds a game, Tshiebwe’s performance so far this season has landed him right in the conversation for National Player of the Year.
Darrell Bird of Cats Pause caught up with Dan Issel, Kentucky’s all-time leading scorer, and also one of Kentucky’s best rebounders, to talk about Tshiebwe and what we are all witnessing this season.
When comparing Tshiebwe to some of the game’s greats, one name came to mind for Issel.
“I go back to Wes Unseld,” Issel said. “He was the shortest starting center in the NBA, but one of the best rebounders because of his ability to block out and use that big body to get position.”
Another big part of Thsiebwe’s game is having an innate ability to know where the ball is coming off the rim at.
“He has that innate ability, and I’ve only seen it in a few players, to know where the ball is coming off,” Issel said. “When the shot goes up, he can tell which side of the basket that it will come off. He knows if it’s going to be a short rebound or a long rebound. I think that’s just a God-given ability that very few players have.”
Right now, Tshiebwe is leading the nation in offensive rebounding averaging 5.3 per game and him knowing where the ball is going to come off at is a major part of that.
“I’m old school, but on the offensive end Oscar reminds me of one of the best offensive rebounders I ever saw,” Issel said. “He played for the Boston Celtics and his name was Paul Silas. Oscar reminds me so much of Paul.”
One big concern this season was staying out of foul trouble. Earlier in the season, John Calipari noted to the media that officials need to know that Tshiebwe is 255 pounds with 7% body fat.
“If he pushes in the back, call it. But if the guy is going overboard trying to box him out and he rebounds it, and they say over the back. Then I’ll lose my mind.”