LEXINGTON, Ky. — The wait is over, and it's good news for Big Blue Nation.
Kentucky basketball's first consensus National Player of the Year in program history is coming back for another season in Lexington. Oscar Tshiebwe announced he'll be back in the blue and white for the 2022-23 season on ESPN Wednesday afternoon. He is the first unanimous player of the year to return to school the following year since Tyler Hansbrough did so at North Carolina in 2008.
“God has told me He is not done with me yet,” Tshiebwe said on SportsCenter. “He told me He wanted me to go back and just to work because He’s not done with me in this place yet. So, I’ll be back again. I’ll be here next year for Kentucky. I’ll be in the blue in Kentucky next year again.”
Big O's decision has been the No. 1 question on Big Blue Nation's mind since the season came to an early end, but Tshiebwe remained consistent. He always said he would take his time, pray about it, and make an announcement regarding his plans for next year once he was ready.
In the meantime, he found plenty of ways to stay busy.
Packed house tonight in Harrodsburg for the Go Tell America event, where the consensus national player of the year Oscar Tshiebwe is expected to speak about his faith and what it means to him. @LEX18News pic.twitter.com/b1z1QRC5m9— Mike Valente (@ValenteLEX18) April 10, 2022
In the past few weeks, Tshiebwe has preached at churches around Kentucky, spoken at schools, performed a baptism, traveled the country collecting his trophies, and was even named a Kentucky Colonel by Gov. Andy Beshear:
Tshiebwe not only averaged a double-double last season, but he did so with a considerable margin - averaging a team-best 17.4 points and a nation-leading 15.1 rebounds per game.
He ended the season with 16 straight double-doubles, the longest streak since complete game-by-game rebounding records were kept dating back to 1969 for the Wildcats. He totaled 28 double-doubles this season, which is a new UK single-season record.
On the defensive end, Tshiebwe was the only major conference player who averaged at least 1.6 blocked shots and 1.6 steals per game during the regular season. He also became only the third player in program history to amass at least 500 rebounds in a season, finishing the year with 515 total boards.
To see the complete list of Tshiebwe's honors from last season, click here.
However, it was also the way Oscar acted off the court and away from the game that made him so lovable across the Bluegrass. He became known for his infectious smile, his fierce dedication to his faith, and his unwavering willingness to stay late after a game to take pictures and sign autographs with the fans.
Oscar Tshiebwe is making a huge impact on all of #BBN, especially this classroom at Beaumont Middle School— BBN Tonight (@BBNTonight) March 16, 2022
That's where he met Wilonja Mangi. He's from the Congo, just like Oscar ⬇
Watch @KeithFarmer18's full story with @Oscartshiebwe34 on https://t.co/ennDLoTzHP pic.twitter.com/NXAg1Vxuon
The fan base that collectively grew to love Oscar as much as any player in school history gets another year with him, and Kentucky basketball is better off for it. His impact on and off the court was irreplaceable on last year's team. Now, the program doesn't have to try to replace it.
Instead, Kentucky's coaches, players, and fans can simply enjoy another season of everything Tshiebwe brings to the table, and with another year of collegiate basketball under his belt, the sky is the limit for Oscar.
Tshiebwe will sit down with BBN Tonight this evening for an exclusive interview. Tune in at 7:30 p.m. on LEX 18 News, the official station for Big Blue Nation, stream live on LEX18.com or watch later on BBNTonight.com.