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Kentucky basketball star Oscar Tshiebwe is putting his name in the NBA Draft pool to explore his options but a return to the Wildcats is still open.
Kentucky had the unanimous player of the year in their lineup in 2021-22. Could they get him back for 2022-23?
Oscar Tshiebwe has accomplished just about every individual honor in NCAA basketball but it seems he’s still not certain if his next step is to leave for the NBA.
Despite that, he’s officially revealed his decision to test the pro waters before making his ultimate decision.
Oscar Tshiebwe to explore NBA Draft, but won’t close door on Kentucky
“I’m going to go through the process in the NBA and everything to see what it’s like out there,” Tshiebwe said on Sports Center after accepting the John R. Wooden Award. “I’m going to come out with a good decision talking with Coach (Cal) and everybody in my family.”
Tshiebwe can enter the NBA Draft without risking his eligibility for next season so long as he doesn’t hire an agent. He can go through the pre-draft process to receive feedback from scouts before withdrawing if he chooses.
Oscar Tshiebwe draft stock: Questions remain for Kentucky star
For most players who swept player of the year honors, a move to the pros would be a no-brainer. However, Tshiebwe’s draft stock and the current NIL landscape has changed the equation considerably.
You’d be hard-pressed to find an NBA Mock Draft at this stage that includes Tshiebwe in the first round. At best, he’s being projected as an early second-round pick. Even a second-round selection isn’t guaranteed.
That could change once the scouts get to evaluate him up close but if it doesn’t his incentive to stay at Kentucky is pretty strong. He’ll be able to cash in on NIL deals (though that’s not without complication due to his student visa, as The Athletic explored) and continue to grow his legend in the college game.
It helps that he seems to really love Kentucky. Even though he’s exploring the draft, there is still reason to have high hopes for his return.
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