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Kentucky’s Oscar Tshiebwe to forego third season with Wildcats, will remain in NBA draft

By Keith Taylor
Kentucky Today

Oscar Tshiebwe won’t be returning for a third season at Kentucky.

The senior center opted to remain in the NBA Draft on Wednesday, ahead of a midnight deadline to stay in the draft or return. Tshiebwe, the 2021-22 consensus National Player of the Year, announced his future plans on social media.

Oscar Tshiebwe (Photo from Kentucky Today)

“I would like to thank Coach (John Calipari) and his staff for their support and belief in me during my life at UK,” Tshiebwe said in a post on Instagram Wednesday. “Lastly, I would like to thank BBN for the love, support and loyalty you have given me and my teammates over the years. I wouldn’t want to play for anyone or anywhere else. … I hope as I continue to fight for my dream of playing in the NBA, you will continue to support me. Thank you BBN for everything and I am so lucky to always call Kentucky home.”

The 6-foot-9 forward isn’t a guarantee to be selected in the draft set for June 22. He led Kentucky in rebounds during the past two years and averaged a double-double with 16.5 points and 13.7 rebounds per game. He led the nation in rebounding during the past two years. He was an All-American selection in each of the past two years.

“Oscar achieved things that no other player has in decades, and I wish we could have won more but he gave everything he had to Kentucky,” Calipari said. “He also became the first member of his family to receive a college diploma and I know how much that means to him and, more importantly, (to) his mother.”

Calipari added Tshiebwe “had a great opportunity to return and break more records and set the national bar for NIL again, but he is ready to fully chase his dreams and he has our support.”

“He is ready for the next level because he has a skill that is elite and will translate to that league,” the Kentucky coach said. “I’m excited to watch his journey unfold, but I know Lexington and the BBN will always be home to him.”

Calipari is awaiting the decision of Antonio Reeves and Chris Livingston, both of whom have yet to make a final decision on their future plans. Cason Wallace and Jacob Toppin have already fully declared for the draft, while Sahvir Wheeler (Washington), Daimion Collins (LSU) and Lance Ware (Villanova) have already transferred.

Kentucky could be down to seven scholarship players depending on the final decisions by Reeves and Livingston. Next year’s roster already features five freshmen and two sophomores.

The incoming freshmen class will be led by Reed Sheppard, Justin Edwards, D.J. Wagner and Aaron Bradshaw.

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