Kentucky has secured a commitment to the best possible transfer option in the country, as West Virginia center Oscar Shibwe announced that he will play for John Calipari in Lexington for the 2021-22 season.
Tsiebwe, a 6-foot, 260-pound center, originally outside the Congo, chose Wildcats over offers and interests from Illinois, North Carolina, Miami (Florida) and Tennessee, among others.
“I am grateful for the time I spent in West Virginia and the lessons I learned,” Tiebwe wrote on his social media pages. “I spent a lot of time praying to God to help me make the best decision for my future. I am excited about this new chapter in my life. I will continue my career at the University of Kentucky. “
I’m grateful for the time I spent in West Virginia and the lessons I learned. I spent a lot of time praying to God to help me make the best decision for my future. I am excited about this new chapter in my life. I will continue my career at the University of Kentucky #BBN pic.twitter.com/rm08UwtDBI
– Big O (@ Oscartshiebwe34) January 11, 2021
But what does Wildcat’s latest addition to the program mean?
Player with immediate practice
Before you worry about Tshiebwe can and will do for the team the next year, it is important to note that the talented transfer plans to enroll for the second semester and will immediately head to Lexington. Although he will not be allowed to play for the rest of the 2020-21 season, he will be allowed to train with the team and work with the team’s strength and conditioning program immediately.
This means that people like Olivier Sar, Kion Brooks Jr., Isaiah Jackson, Lance Ware and Jacob Topin will be able to face Chebwe – an absolute man’s tank – every day in practice, helping the current group prepare for strong, physical players in the front field, the team will continue to see throughout the conference.
Kentucky is already deep in fellows – 11 already with Brooks back in the rotation – but the addition of Chebwe will ensure that Calipari will no longer worry that there will be enough bodies to fight in practice. Now he has extras.
Garbage dog in a fight
As for Tshiebwe’s presence on the court since it was declared admissible in 2021-22, it’s pretty clear what Kentucky is getting: a strong, physical horse with an endless engine.
Standing 6 feet 9,260 pounds with a wingspan of 7 feet 5, Tsiebwe now has a body ready for the NBA. It is an anchor in the front field, both literally and figuratively. But the reason there is so much excitement about the former five-star prospect from high school is that he just got ahead of everyone on the floor and that remained his highlight during his time in West Virginia. Whether it’s diving for loose balls, fighting for heavy bounces or running before the race for a quick break, Tshiebwe is not ahead of anyone.
This quote from the former mountain center says it all:
“I’m a machine,” Shibwe said West Virginia Life as a mountaineer video series. “The way I play, most of the people we play against ask me the same question during matches. “Brother, how can you not get tired?” I say, “I get tired, but I don’t stop when I’m tired. I stop when it’s over. ”
Tshiebwe remains a bit harsh at the offensive end – he’s relatively new to the sport – but he makes up for it by doing the dirty work at both ends of the floor. There’s a reason he averaged a double-double – 11.2 points and 9.3 rebounds per game – after all.
The front yard for next year may be full
That’s right, Kentucky’s front yard for next season looks pretty busy.
We’re not sure what will happen to Kion Brooks Jr. regarding his decision on the NBA, and Olivier Sarr (graduation) and Isaiah Jackson (an NBA project) may leave the program, but expectations are that Jacob Topin and Lance Ware both return next season and Kentucky has already signed five-star center Damion Collins and four-star striker Bryce Hopkins in the 2021 class.
With the official addition of Tshiebwe to the picture, space is now limited to the UK’s front yard and that’s a good thing. There is no bright hole down, as it stands with the five probable pieces in Tshiebwe, Toppin, Ware, Collins and Hopkins, and if either Brooks or Jackson return, the sky is the limit down.
You often can’t fortify a first-level first-level site for an entire year in advance, but Calipari did just that by adding Tsiebwe to the mix.
Someone who wants to be in Kentucky
In addition to what he brings to the table as a player, Tsiebwe is a man who has loved the Kentucky basketball program since high school. As a recruit, Tshiebwe had deep ties to the West Virginia program, which was almost certain to end in Morgantown, regardless of who called.
But make no mistake, Tshiebwe liked what Calipari and the British program had to offer for the first time.
“It was a difficult decision because I like Kentucky and I love Coach Calipari,” Tiebwe told KSR at the All-American Game at McDonald’s in 2019. “But I came to West Virginia because it’s a school I was thinking 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. “
If he hadn’t signed with the mountaineers, Tiebwe told KSR he was heading to Lexington.
“Coach Calipari was telling me, ‘I want to train you!’ Come play for me! I will train you and help you become a great player. I will help you achieve your dreams. … Kentucky was second. ”
Two years later, Tshiebwe is finally a wild cat in Kentucky.