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Oscar Nuggets

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If you only paid attention to Oscar Tshiebwe saying he was coming back to Kentucky for another season at his press conference last week, you missed out on a lot of other nuggets the consensus national player of the year shared.

— Name, image and likeness.

Speculation was that Tshiebwe would stay at Kentucky if there was a way for him to profit off NIL even though he’s on a student visa.

“I am a man of God. I trust in what God is telling me. I know it is kind of tricky being an international student,” Tshiebwe said about NIL.

What about rumors that he could make $2 million or more through NIL next season?

“I don’t know about that. That is good money right there,” Tshiebwe smiled and said. “If God can help me get that it would  be good.”

Tshiebwe said he’s putting his faith in God that rules will get changed to where he can profit off NIL like other student-athletes. He also said he used both prayer and fasting to help him receive the right spiritual advice about his future.

“God says he’s not finished with me,” Tshiebwe said. “I said, I came to this place. Nobody knew who I was. Now, You carried me to the top. But my name is not in the NBA (mock drafts). Why? He said, ‘If I want to put your name in the NBA, I’ll put it. I’m not done with you.’ I said, OK. I’m going to come back.”

— Guard CJ Fredrick.

The Iowa transfer did not play last season because of leg injuries. However he has a believer in Tshiebwe because of the work he’s seen him doing in the gym.

“We expected him to make shots. I was watching him two days ago  and he made like 35 in a row. That is crazy,” Tshiebwe said Friday. “He is looking good. I keep praying for him so God can keep him healthy and he can help us.

“He loves basketball. Even when he was hurt he was always in the gym doing something. He will be good. He will help us this year.”

— Bryce Hopkins, Dontaie Allen.

Tshiebwe’s two teammates from last season both are transferring. Allen has already announced he’ll play at Western Kentucky next season while Hopkins has not picked a new school yet.

“Happiness is the key to success. Wherever you are, if you are not happy you have got to go where you are happy so you can achieve more,” the UK star said. “They were here. I will be praying for them. I hope they can accomplish what they want.

“Bryce is a good kid. Dontaie was good. Seems like they were not happy (at UK). They just got to work hard. Success does not come easy. It comes with pain and struggle. They got to work harder. You cannot expect it to be easy. You have got to fight for what you want in life or somebody is going to take it.”

— Shaedon Sharpe.

The Kentucky freshman did not play the second semester after joining the basketball program and now has put his name into the NBA draft — with the option to still come back to UK if he surprises almost everyone and does that.

“He can play. I want him back. If Shaedon comes back, it’ll be a different level of basketball for us,” Tshiebwe said. “It’s up to him. I already see what coach Cal has for us. We are going to make each other better. Either way, we are good.”

Teammates Keion Brooks and Jacob Toppin have also put their name into the NBA Draft pool to get feedback on their future.

“We let them go see. Me personally, I did not want to go prove to them (NBA personnel)  I am good and I can do this,” Tshiebwe said. “I just take my time and work on my things. My time will come.

“But we let them see. If you hear something good, go (to the NBA). Coach will bring somebody else good (to UK) and we will play basketball. If you do not hear good, come on back.”

— Being a target for opponents as the returning national player of the year.

“I like when I am the target for a lot of people. I like when people are coming for me,” Tshiebwe said. “I study a lot.”

He said he often lays in bed watching videos of future opponents to see how they might try to stop him.

“Everybody saying, ‘I am going against Oscar. I got to destroy him.’ I think I will be good,” the UK junior said. “God has blessed me with this best model.”

Larry Vaught
Larry Vaught is a seven-time winner of the Kentucky Sportswriter of the Year award and has covered University of Kentucky sports since 1975. Larry now has a syndicated UK sports column appearing in 34 newspapers across the state as well as http://www.yoursportsedge.com/, and http://www.cameronmillsradio.com/. Larry also joins Mark Buerger and Anthony White on WLAP Sunday Morning Sports each week in Lexington as well as appearing each Tuesday with Tom Leach on The Leach Report.

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