Tshiebwe relied on God’s timing, took different path to Kentucky

Published 2:19 pm Friday, April 16, 2021

Oscar Tshiebwe is fully committed to playing at Kentucky next season.

Although declaring for the NBA Draft could have been an option, the West Virginia transfer said any kind of feedback “is not going to change my mind.”

“My mind is like, I’ve got to work,” he said Wednesday. “I’ve got to get better. I’ve got to be ready for this team next year.”

During the recruiting process, Tshiebwe, a sophomore, originally wanted to attend Kentucky, but settled on the Mountaineers.

“Kentucky was my school, my favorite school, my dream school since my freshman year in high school,” he said. “I ended up choosing West Virginia but look what God did. He sent me to the place I always prayed for to be.

“I’m so happy to be here, and I know I wanted to be one-and-done since my freshman year, but the way God does things differently than how we do things, we just have to find his way.”

Despite taking a rare and less-traveled route to Kentucky, Tshiebwe relied on his father’s advice and stayed patient.

“Sometimes you’re planning stuff, God is planning other stuff for you,” he said. “That’s why we need to be patient and trust God in every situation we’re going through and work hard and never give up.”

Even though Tshiebwe turned down the Wildcats during his recruitment, Kentucky coach John Calipari wished him well and advised him to “keep working.”

“Since then my relationship has been great. I always wanted to play for Kentucky and Kentucky was my dream school but why did I change my mind? I’m at West Virginia now. I feel like I was not happy anymore and everything was not good. I was not laughing. I was not enjoying my time anymore. That’s why I said no, this is the time I pray. I prayed because I wanted God to help me with the situation.”

When he arrived at Kentucky earlier this spring Tshiebwe practiced with the Wildcats and soaked in the experience.

“It was a great experience for me. It was great,” he said. “Like at practice was absolutely different from where I came from. Practice last year, there was a lot of stuff for me to work on to be ready for this team next year. So, that was great for me to see those things. So, now I’m working on the things to be ready for next year’s team.”

Tshiebwe said his biggest attribute is providing a presence in the post, especially in the rebounding department, a consistent issue for Kentucky last season.

“We really struggled last year with rebounding. It is something that I really bring to the table,” he said. “I’m a fighter. I go for every rebound. I don’t care who I’m going against. Post moves, we had a lot of skills, but we did not have a lot of muscle in there. Like, I thought there were some people that kind of bullied us a little. I’m going to be ready for them.”

He also understands he’s still a student of the game and wants to improve on his jump shot and post moves.

“I told them they can teach me the game of basketball,” he said. “That’s because I’m new in this game. I’ve got a lot to learn. That’s why I’m listening to them all of the time.”

Now that he’s settled into his new home, Tshiebwe is anxious to restart his collegiate career.

“I was hoping I could come straight and help this team, but I couldn’t,” he said. “I said I can practice (and) be ready for next year. I am so happy to be here.”

Keith Taylor is sports editor for Kentucky Today. Reach him at keith.taylor@kentuckytoday.com or Twitter @keithtaylor21.