Kentucky Wildcats star Oscar Tshiebwe ‘should’ win every National Player of the Year award there is after the magical regular season he just had.
Coming into the season, Tshiebwe wasn’t even on the board regarding the preseason NPOY odds. And it wasn’t until the new year began when Tshiebwe’s NPOY campaign really started picking up steam.
Fast-forward to now, and the humble giant is the heavy favorite to college most, if not all six NPOY awards there are. He came into today at -300 to win the John R. Wooden Award, implying he had a 75% chance of winning it.
That was before Tshiebwe had one of his best games of what’s been a very special season, as he racked up 27 points (11/16 shooting), 15 rebounds, three steals and two blocks in Kentucky’s 71-63 win over the Florida Gators.
The Congo native had a double-double in the first half alone at 12 points and 11 boards, as Florida simply had no answer for him in the paint this season.
It came after the junior big man recorded 27 points (11/18 shooting), 19 rebounds, three steals and two assists in the 78-57 win over the Gators inside Rupp Arena just three weeks ago.
After the game, head coach John Calipari weighed in on his star player’s odds of winning NPOY, saying he’d be surprised if Tshiebwe doesn’t take home the hardware.
“I’ll be surprised [if he doesn’t] but, I’ve been surprised before,” said Calipari during his postgame press conference. “The things that he’s done haven’t been done for 50 years.
“Let me say that again. FIFTY years. How could you not do it? ‘Well, I don’t like Kentucky. I don’t like Cal.’
“OK. That’s fine. Then vote for who you want. He’s done some good stuff. I can tell you that. I’m proud of him. And it’s not only on the court. Off the court, this kid is a model citizen.”
Of the six currently NPOY awards, Kentucky has only had one winner in school history. That was Anthony Davis during the 2011-12 season in which he led the Wildcats to a national championship.
Here’s to hoping Tshiebwe does the same this time around.
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