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Kentucky Basketball Player Preview: Ugonna Kingsley Onyenso

Onyenso may be a true freshman, but he has the tools to be Kentucky’s best rim protector.

Ugonna Kingsley Ugonna Kingsley

The Kentucky Wildcats will take the floor at Rupp Arena for the first regular season game against Howard on November 7th.

While fans are excited across the board for the return of Oscar Tshiebwe, Sahvir Wheeler, Jacob Toppin, and others, it is the new faces to the Kentucky basketball program that could make a huge difference to the outcome of this season.

Now let's take a look at the newest member of this year's frontcourt.

Ugonna Kingsley Onyenso

  • Height: 7-feet
  • Weight: 233 pounds
  • Class: Freshman
  • Position: Center
  • Hometown: Originally from Nigeria but comes to Lexington by way of Putnam, CT
  • Recruiting Rankings: Was considered a 4-star prospect in the class of 2022 and ranked as the No. 39 player in the class by the 247 Sports Composite rankings.

A late reclassification to this year's recruiting class, Onyenso adds a lot of long-term value to the men’s basketball program.

Known as one of the best shot-blockers in America during high school, his defensive instincts will also carry over to his time in Lexington. This gives Kentucky something they have not had over the last several seasons — a dominant rim protector.

We have seen players similar to Onyenso flourish under John Calipari at Kentucky; now it is just about continuing to take the next steps to round out his offensive game.

Over the course of the preseason, since his arrival on campus in August, we have seen sneak peeks of his game, especially on offense.

He has shown nice touch around the basket, while also flashing a smooth jumper that will seemingly only get better with time. Add in his size and length in the transition game, and he also could figure to be a nice lob threat for the minutes he will see this season.

That is where this whole question begins for Onyenso: How much will we see him take the court this season?

When he first arrived on campus, the plan was for Onyenso to redshirt for his first season in Lexington, allowing him to practice against Oscar every day to help him be prepared to take over a starting role next season.

Now with his play and the injury to Oscar Tshiebwe, it becomes a possibility we could see Onyenso have a big role early this season. With his play and skillset, it should be something Big Blue Nation should be excited to watch.

Onyenso came to Kentucky with the plan of being the next star big man to come through Calipari's program. Although his role this season comes behind Oscar and Lance, the future is very bright for the program at the center position for the next few years to come.

And it all comes back to the reps that he is getting in practice against the reigning NPOY this season. It is going to be exciting to see him continue to take steps forward this season.

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