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Oscar’s Back!

Kentucky forward Oscar Tshiebwe (34) celebrates during the second half of the team’s NCAA college basketball game against Vanderbilt in the Southeastern Conference men’s tournament Friday, March 11, 2022, in Tampa, Fla.Chris O’Meara – staff, AP

LEXINGTON, Ky. (KT) – When Oscar Tshiebwe spoke at Governor’s Prayer Breakfast a week ago, he had already made his mind up he would be returning for a second season with the Wildcats. He revealed his decision seven days later.

He simply leaned on his faith to guide him and made the announcement on ESPN Sportscenter Wednesday afternoon.

“I was not sure if it was the right decision to do, so we were still praying, praying, praying, but God, he told me, I’ve got to make this decision, so I just decided to announce today,” he said.

Tshiebwe, the consensus college basketball Player of the Year last season, has no intentions of immediately playing at the next level and took his time making the decision whether to return for a second season.

“I’m a person who  … I don’t decide based on what I think is good for me. I think most of the time I pray for it and I ask God what is good for me, that I can do. We’ve been fasting and praying with my family, my mom, and everybody to try to ask God for a decision to help us.”

His future plans include to one day play in the NBA but didn’t feel like it was the right time to declare for the draft. 

“I asked God, you have brought me, I became the national player of the year. I always wanted to be a lottery pick, top 10, top 15 … I asked God, why am I not there yet? God has told me, he’s not done with me yet. He told me he wanted me to go back to just work because it’s not done with me in this place yet. I’ll be back again. So, I’ll be here next year at Kentucky. I’ll be in the blue in Kentucky next year again.”

Tshiebwe swept all major National Player of the Year honors and even claimed the prestigious John R. Wooden Award.

“I just give all the glory back to God because whatever is happening, it is incredible,” he said at the time. “(I) Give all the glory back to God and thank God for everything. I thank my family, my coaches, my friends, my teammates, everybody helping me to get where I am today. I am very thankful for all of them. And I’m very grateful. I cannot wait to see what God’s about to do with me.”

Tshiebwe became the first player in Southeastern Conference history to win all six major awards. He became the second player coached by John Calipari to achieve the rare feat, the other being Marcus Camby at Massachusetts.

More than 1,000 voters selected Tshiebwe based on criteria set by Wooden and the Wooden Award Steering Committee. Former Kentucky standout Anthony Davis won the award in 2012 after leading the Wildcats to the national championship.

Tshiebwe averaged 17.4 points and 15.1 rebounds per game in leading the Wildcats to a 26-8 record. He ended the year with a school-record 16 consecutive double-double performances and collected 28 during the season.

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Keith Taylor
Keith Taylor is an award-winning journalist who has covered Kentucky athletics since 1995. He is the sports editor of Kentucky Today and his work appears in 12 daily newspapers as well as various weekly and web sites throughout the state. Reach him at Keith.taylor@kentuckytoday.com or twitter @keithtaylor 21.

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