LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Oscar Tshiebwe, one of the most decorated players in University of Kentucky basketball history and its best rebounder of the modern era, has made himself eligible for the 2023 NBA Draft, but will maintain his collegiate eligibility.
Tshiebwe became the program's first-ever unanimous national player of the year after leading the nation in rebounding in 2022, and returned a season later to become the program's ninth-ever two-time consensus All-American, while leading hte nation in rebounds again.
The native of Democratic Republic of the Congo transferred to Kentucky from West Virginia, and has averaged 16.9 points and 14.4 rebounds per game in 66 UK appearances. He is tied for second in career double-doubles (48), sixth in all-time career rebounds (952) and 48th in scoring (1,117).
“Oscar fulfilled one dream by being a Kentucky basketball player, but he’s ready to chase this next dream,” Kentucky coach John Calipari said. “There is no player in that league like Oscar. He’s also an ideal player to have in your locker room because he will truly care about his teammates, the organization and the community. I’m excited for Oscar to go through this process to see if it’s his time to live out his ultimate goal.”
Oscar's popularity transcended basketball. He spoke often, in many forums, about his faith, and worked with organizations around Lexington and the state on charitable causes.
He was a respected voice among UK players and in the campus community. His decision to return to school, made possible by NCAA Name, Image and Likeness legislation, charted a new course for top college players.
"I would like to thank God for everything He has done for me,” Tshiebwe said in a statement released by the school. “It has been amazing to see the many blessings He has shown me through my time at the University of Kentucky. I would like to thank my family and everyone who has supported me over the years while working towards my dream. I would also like to thank Coach Calipari and the coaching staff for believing in a kid from the Congo, as well as my teammates for standing beside me and fighting every day."
"At this time, I feel as though it is best for me to declare for the NBA Draft while maintaining my college eligibility. As I continue down this path, I pray that I can continue to have the amazing love and support of BBN, as you will always be in my heart and prayers. Only God knows what my future holds, but until then, it’s time to get to work."
Tshiebwe has submitted paperwork to receive evaluations from the NBA and may participate in the NBA Draft Combine in Chicago from May 15-21. The deadline to return to school is May 31.
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