Mark Story: A respectful suggestion to Oscar Tshiebwe: Come back to Kentucky
Published in Basketball
LEXINGTON, Ky. — If you read Oscar Tshiebwe’s comments to the Lexington Herald-Leader’s Ben Roberts at the NBA combine last week, it seems apparent that the Kentucky Wildcats men’s basketball star’s preferred career plan is to turn pro now.
“I’m praying that a (NBA) team can get me,” Tshiebwe said. Later, in the same interview, the UK star added “My dream is to play in the NBA.”
It is a perfectly logical aspiration. A player who plays with the competitive pride that Tshiebwe exhibits must burn for the challenge of proving one’s self at basketball’s highest level.
Set to turn 24 on Nov. 27, Tshiebwe can hardly be blamed if he’s reached the point that he’s ready to move on from college.
Whatever Tshiebwe decides, it’s his life and he has every right to live it as he sees fit.
However, on balance, it looks from here that Tshiebwe would be best served by returning to Kentucky next year.
As the NBA draft process rolls on, there’s scant evidence Tshiebwe will hear his name called. This remains true even after Tshiebwe turned in a more-than-solid showing in two games at the draft combine in Chicago, averaging 13 points and 12.5 rebounds.
ESPN.com’s mock draft does not have Tshiebwe listed as going in either of the two rounds. NBADraft.net has Tshiebwe as the 66th-best prospect for what will be a 58-player draft (Chicago and Philadelphia have forfeited second-round choices in the 2023 NBA draft).
As the cliche goes, it only takes one team to like you, but if Tshiebwe finds himself on May 31 — the deadline to pull one’s name out of the draft and maintain one’s college eligibility — without the assurance of a guaranteed contract from an NBA franchise, he should exit.
Playing one more season at Kentucky should be more rewarding on every level than the uncertain life of an NBA end-of-the-bencher or playing in the obscurity of the G League.
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