(Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Kentucky has emerged as a potential option for West Virginia transfer Oscar Tshiebwe.
According to Ben Roberts of the Herald-Leader, UK was among the first schools to reach out to the 6-foot-9, 260-pound center originally out of Congo after he entered the transfer portal on Tuesday.
“The Herald-Leader has learned that UK was among the first schools to reach out to Tshiebwe, a former Wildcats recruiting target who took an official visit to Lexington during his initial recruiting process,” Roberts reported.
Tshiebwe, a former five-star prospect out of high school, averaged 8.5 and 7.8 rebounds per game as a sophomore before putting his name in the transfer portal. In his first year with the program, Tshiebwe led West Virginia in scoring (11.2) and rebounding (9.3) en route to All-Big 12 Second Team and All-Freshman Team honors. It was a freshman performance that led CBS Sports to listing the WVU big man as the No. 15 player in college basketball ahead of the 2020-21 season.
Prior to his time in Morgantown, Tshiebwe was ranked as a five-star prospect by Rivals.com, who listed the standout center as the No. 26 prospect in the class of 2019. He was also named a McDonald’s All-American, a game in which he finished with a double-double with 12 points and 10 rebounds in 18 minutes.
Prior to the McDonald’s All-American Game, Tshiebwe told KSR that he loved UK head coach John Calipari and what the Kentucky basketball program had to offer.
“It was a hard decision because I like Kentucky and I love Coach Calipari,” Tshiebwe said. “But I ended up at West Virginia because it’s a school I used to think about (growing up). I like the way they play, I like the coach, I like the program. That’s why I ended up going there.”
And had he not signed with the Mountaineers, he was headed to Lexington.
“Coach Calipari was telling me, “I want to coach you! Come play for me! I’m going to coach you and help you become a great player. I’ll help you reach your dreams. … Kentucky was second.”
According to college basketball insider Andrew Slater, Tshiebwe is expected to cut his list down to six or seven schools in the near future and begin conducting Zoom meetings with the remaining finalists.
After coming to a final decision, the former five-star prospect is planning to enroll in the spring semester before becoming immediately eligible for the 2021-22 season.
Practicing with the team to close out the remainder of the season before joining the lineup next year? Sign me up.