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Ugonna Onyenso switches gears, says he’s coming back to UK; Chris Livingston testing NBA waters

Ugonna Onyenso, right, has decided to remove his name from the transfer portal and remain at Kentucky. (Photo by Keith Taylor, Kentucky Today)

By Keith Taylor
Kentucky Today

Ugonna Onyenso, a 6-foot-11 center from Nigeria, announced Wednesday his intention to take his name out of the transfer portal and come back to Kentucky for the 2023-24 season.

It was a surprise last week when Onyenso put his name in the portal although he was used sparingly his freshman season when he played only 110 minutes over 16 games, averaging 2.5 points, 2.6 rebounds and 1.0 blocked shots.

“I’m back and looking forward to chasing my dream of winning a national championship with my brothers! Go Cats!” Onyenso said in announcing his intention to return to Kentucky on Wednesday night.

He will battle for playing time with 7-1 freshman Aaron Bradshaw, returnee Lance Ware and possibly two-time All-American Oscar Tshiebwe, who will test the NBA Draft waters before deciding his future. The door is open for him to come back for another “super senior” season because of rules in place through COVID-19.

Chris Livingston provided defense and rebounding for Kentucky as a freshman. He has declared for the NBA Draft with the option to return. (Photo by Les Nicholson, Kentucky Today)

Also on Wednesday, Chris Livingston declared for the NBA Draft, but is leaving his options open for a possible return next season.

Livingston averaged 6.3 points and 4.2 rebounds per game during his freshman campaign and will base his decision on evaluations from the NBA. The draft combine is May 15-21 and the deadline to make a final decision to return to campus is May 31.

“Basketball means everything to me, and it was a dream of mine to be a part of an incredible basketball program like the University of Kentucky,” Livingston said. “Thank you to Big Blue Nation, my teammates and all the coaches and staff for your support.”

Livingston thanked his supporters and is anxious to see what happens during the evaluation process.

“From middle school, high school, and AAU to now, many people have helped motivate and inspire me to achieve my goals,” Livingston said. “Thank you to my mom, grandparents, brother and sister for the sacrifices they made along the way. With that being said, I’m declaring for the 2023 NBA Draft. It’s only up from here.”

Livingston played in 34 games last season and started 26 of those contests. He was an All- Southeastern Conference Freshman team performer and tallied double figures in seven games. He was named SEC Freshman of the Week the week of Feb. 20 after he averaged 12.5 points and 7.5 rebounds per game.

“I’m excited for Chris and his family to go through this part of the process on his journey,” Kentucky coach John Calipari said. “Coming in as a physical wing, Chris showed substantial growth as this season went on and proved to be a capable scorer, reliable defender and a relentless rebounder.”

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