Oscar Tshiebwe on Naismith Trophy Player of the Year list
LEXINGTON, Ky. – Kentucky junior forward Oscar Tshiebwe was named to the Naismith Trophy Player of the Year Mid-Season Squad on Thursday. All 30 nominees are considered the top contenders to win the National Player of the Year honor.
Tshiebwe was also named to the Olson Lute Watch List and the John R. Wooden Award for Player of the Year honors. Both The Sporting News and The Athletic listed Tshiebwe on their mid-season All-America squads, and he is one of 10 finalists for Naismith’s Defensive Player of the Year award. In addition, he is part of the Top 10 of the Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Award which recognizes the best center in the country.
Tshiebwe made a name for himself nationally with rebounding numbers that haven’t been seen in decades at the Division I college basketball level.
In games on February 8, Tshiebwe leads the nation in rebounds per game (15.1), offensive rebounds per game (5.0) and defensive rebound percentage (36.0%).
Tshiebwe has five rebounding efforts of 20 or more, tying Blake Griffin and Tim Duncan for the most by a major conference player since 1996-97. He’s in the middle of a double-digit rebounding streak in 11 straight games, the longest streak for a Wildcat since Dan Issel had 12 of those games in 1969-70.
The Democratic Republic of Congo native has amassed 363 total rebounds on the season, 71 more than the next closest player this season.
There has certainly been more than one defining moment for Tshiebwe as he leads the Wildcats in goals (15.9), rebounds (15.1), steals (1.9), blocks (1 .5) and field goal percentage (60.2%). He is the only major conference player to average at least 1.5 blocks and at least 1.5 steals per game this season.
Included in his five 20-rebound games was a club-record 28-board performance in a dominating victory over Western Kentucky. The 28 boards smashed the Rupp Arena record of 21 previously held by Shaquille O’Neal.
Not only has Tshiebwe recorded more rebounds than the entire WKU team — and against the nation’s tallest player, Jamarion Sharp, who stands at 7-foot-5 — his tally is tied for the sixth-most rebounds in the league. UK history and growing. over 45, when Mike Phillips mustered 28 caroms in an overtime game against Tennessee on Jan. 10, 1976. They are the most for a Wildcat in a regulation-length game in over 52, when Dan Issel grabbed 29 rebounds against LSU on February 22, 1969. According to STATS, his 28 rebounds are also the most in Division I college basketball since Delaware State’s Kendall Gray recorded 30 at Coppin State on March 5, 2015.
Against Mississippi State on January 25, Tshiebwe recorded 21 points and 22 rebounds to become the first British player to go 20-20 since Phillips achieved the feat twice in 1976.
Tshiebwe is looking to become the first Division I player to average at least 15.0 points per game and at least 15.0 rebounds per game since Lewis Lloyd of Drake and Larry Smith of Alcorn State each did so at the during the 1979-80 season.
The last British player to average at least 14.0 rebounds per game in a season was Ed Beck in 1956-57. Bob Burrow holds Kentucky’s single-season record of 17.7 rebounds per game, which was set during the 1954-55 season. Only two players under John Calipari average double-digit rebounds for a season: Anthony Davis (2012) and Julius Randle (2014) both had 10.4 rebounds per game.
Simply put, Tshiebwe is responsible for 36.7% of all UK rebounds this season. Stripping out the team’s rebounds, that percentage jumps to 40.0%.
The 255-pound forward is no pushover offensively either. With improved post-work and the second-chance opportunities he creates on the glass, Tshiebwe is shooting 60.2% from the floor and has scored 20 or more points seven times per team, including a career-high 30 points. at Vanderbilt. He was the first British player to score 30 points and 10 rebounds in a game since Patrick Patterson had 33 points and 11 rebounds against Tennessee State on Dec. 22, 2008. Tshiebwe is also the first Wildcat to score at least 29 consecutive points. SEC games since Kenny Walker in February 1985.
Tshiebwe and the Wildcats return to action at home when they host Florida on Saturday at 4 p.m. ET. The game will be televised by ESPN.
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