Return to UK still in play for Tshiebwe, transfer ‘not an option’
Published 10:41 am Monday, May 22, 2023
If Oscar Tshiebwe opts to continue his collegiate career, it won’t be at another school.
The Kentucky forward participated in the NBA Combine last week and indicated he will return to play a third season for the Wildcats if his immediate plans of making a leap to the next level fall short.
“That is not an option,” Tshiebwe said in an interview with the Lexington Herald-Leader. “I will never transfer. Kentucky’s my home. If there’s a chance to go professional, I’ll go pro. If there’s a chance to not go professional, I will go back to Kentucky. I’ve never even thought about going (another) place. Kentucky is my home. It’s a dream place. I can’t leave my home. That’s my place, forever.”
Thsiebwe, the unanimous College Player of the Year two years ago, has enjoyed his time with the Wildcats regardless of the decision he makes on May 31 to remain the draft or return to Lexington.
“It has meant a lot. I’ve had a great, great time—probably the best time in my life—at Kentucky,” he said. “The people have been great to me. I’ve been good with the fans. I’m just so appreciative for everything the people have done for us. And everything I have accomplished for Kentucky — I’m very grateful for that. And I will continue to be a part of the Big Blue Nation forever.”
At the combine in Chicago, Tshiebwe scored 10 points and had 16 rebounds in his team’s 107-88 win in a exhibition game on Wednesday. He had a rating of plus 26, while competing against Connecticut’s Adama Sanogo and Drew Timme of Gonzaga.
“The feedback has been great,” he said. “They keep telling me good things, and things that I need to keep working on. They know what I can do best, like you saw today. But they tell me a lot of different things to keep working on.”
Most mock drafts don’t have Tshiebwe listed among the 58 picks and the Kentucky senior is listed at No. 64 on the ESPN draft board. Tshiebwe took part in the exhibition games to help improve his pre-draft standing among the other participants, many of which opted against playing in five-on-five contests.
“The process has been good,” Tshiebwe said. “I’ve been working — trying to extend my game to a different level. Everything’s going great.”
Tshiebwe has met with Boston, Houston, Milwaukee and Sacramento, and he plans to work out with other teams before the deadline.
“I don’t want to say too much, because I gotta finish this process, and I gotta see where God got me going,” he said. “Right now, it’s still (a possibility of returning to Kentucky). I just want to continue and see. I’m praying everything can go well. I’m praying that a team can get me.”
The NIL has been a solid source of income for Tshiebwe at Kentucky, which is still a backup plan for next season if he decides to return to the collegiate ranks.
“The NIL is good,” he said. “It helped a lot of us take care of our families and I really appreciate that. But I’m not really focusing on that. I’m just going to stay strong and focus on what I’m doing right now. But this is my dream. My dream is to play in the NBA.”