On Wednesday, SEC Basketball coaches flocked to Birmingham for Media Days, including Kentucky Wildcats head coach, John Calipari.
Just like every year, the Cats are seen as a title favorite in the conference, and they return the reigning National Player of the Year in Oscar Tshiebwe. It didn't take long for the media to sneak in a question about Oscar’s return.
Becoming the first NPOY to return for another season since Tyler Hansbrough came back for another season at Chapel Hill in 2008, Coach Calipari had a response that a lot of the Big Blue Nation loved to hear.
“I’m trying to get him to come back next year, too,” Calipari quipped.
Although Oscar is a senior this season, he still has the extra year due to the COVID-19 rule issued out in the 2020 season.
Seen as a second-round draft pick after this season, Oscar returned hoping to build his stock into being a solid first-round selection. NIL also played a major factor into his return according to Calipari.
“The NIL will keep kids in school that would have left. That’s what happened in men’s basketball. So with him, if that didn’t happen, he would have gone,” Calipari said. “If he would have been drafted or projected in a better position, he would have been gone.”
With his return, Coach Cal knows he needs to help Oscar showcase an all-around game to help his draft stock this season.
“You gotta be better as a basketball player,” Calipari said of what Tshiebwe has to do. “We know you rebound. You gotta be able to guard multiple positions. You gotta be able to pass and dribble. You gotta be a better basketball player.”
If Kentucky’s recent Pro Day is any indicator, Kentucky fans could be in for a real treat when Tshiebwe is back in action.
“We had Pro Day, and everyone left saying he’s way better than he was. Like, he’s way better as a player than he was. And that’s why you come back,” Calipari stated. “If you’re coming back for a re-do you shouldn’t come back.”
The chances of Oscar returning for another season in Lexington seems too good to be true. But with NIL, it will be hard to rule anything out.
I would take Calipari’s comments with a grain of salt, but you have to love the thought of him getting a third season to help grow Oscar’s game.