“I am grateful for the time I spent at West Virginia, and the lessons that I learned. I’ve spent a lot of time praying to God to help me make the best decision for my future,” Tshiebwe wrote on Twitter. “I am excited for this new chapter of my life. I will continue my career at the University of Kentucky #BBN”
I am grateful for the time I spent at West Virginia, and the lessons that I learned. I’ve spent a lot of time praying to God to help me make the best decision for my future. I am excited for this new chapter of my life. I will continue my career at the University of Kentucky #BBN pic.twitter.com/rm08UwtDBI
— Big O (@Oscartshiebwe34) January 11, 2021
West Virginia announced on New Year’s Day that Tshiebwe was stepping away from the program, and the productive big man entered the transfer portal a few days later. Tshiebwe received interest from a long list of programs following his transfer but conducted Zoom meetings on Thursday and Friday with the four aforementioned schools.
Miami was thought to be the favorite shortly after Tshiebwe’s announcement because he was in Florida working out, sources told ESPN, but Kentucky made up ground after Tshiebwe spoke with Wildcats head coach John Calipari and then had a Zoom call with the team on Friday night.
Tshiebwe entered the NBA draft last summer before withdrawing his name, and sources told ESPN he could test the draft waters again this spring. However, after being projected as a second-round pick in ESPN’s 2021 mock draft last summer, he fell out of its top 100 prospect rankings after the first few weeks of this season.
A 6-foot-9 big man from Congo, Tshiebwe was one of the best freshmen in the country last season, averaging 11.2 points and 9.3 rebounds. He was named to the Preseason All-Big 12 team entering this season but struggled for most of the first half of the season. He was averaging 8.5 points and 7.8 rebounds before transferring, and his minutes fell below 20 per game.
Tshiebwe was a former top-50 recruit in the 2019 class.
Kentucky has a number of potential NBA draft prospects on this season’s roster, although it’s unclear which ones will turn pro and which ones will return to Lexington. Either way, Tshiebwe should help replace Olivier Sarr, a former Wake Forest transfer who is expected to depart after this season.