Oscar Tshiebwe Gives WVU Fan’s A Glimpse Of What’s To Come
MORGANTOWN, W.Va.—Basketball fans from all over the Mountain State packed Morgantown High School’s gymnasium to witness Saturday night’s bout between the homestanding Mohigans and the Kennedy Catholic Golden Eagles of Hermitage, Pa. It was the first chance for WVU fans to get an up-close look at Oscar Tshiebwe, a 6-foot-9, 250-pound power forward who recently signed his Letter of Intent to play for Bob Huggins and Mountaineers.
Tshiebwe, considered one of the nation’s elite big men by virtually every recruiting service in the country, didn’t disappoint, leading all scorers with 25 points and hauling down 18 rebounds in a 57-40 win over Morgantown.
“I was very impressed,” MHS coach Dave Tallman noted when asked for his initial impressions Tshiebwe. “Of course he’s a dunker, but he made some pull-up jump shots against our guys, and I thought we did a pretty good job defensively there for a little while until he got loose on some lobs and stuff. But he’s as good as advertised, and I think he’s going to be a heck of a player for the Mountaineers.”
On the offensive end of the floor, Tshiebwe lived up to his billing, running the court smoothly, finishing lob passes with powerful dunks and displaying a soft touch when he pulled up and shot the ball, knocking down a 20-footer and even a three-pointer late in the game.
But his menacing presence on defensive end likely had the biggest impact on the contest, forcing the Mohigans to settle for a number of three-pointers and shots from the perimeter throughout the evening. For the game’s first 10 minutes or so, Morgantown connected on its open looks, as Alex Rudy and Garrett Haines each hit multiple threes to help the Morgantown hang right in there with the Eagles, with the lead changing hands 11 different times through the first quarter and a half of play.
But when the outside shots stopped falling, Morgantown couldn’t match up with Kennedy Catholic’s sheer size and athleticism, and the difference started to show midway through the second quarter when the Eagles put together a 12-1 run featuring multiple buckets from Tshiebwe and Duquesne signee Maceo Austin, who capped off the barrage with a breakaway one-handed slam that extended the Eagle lead to 31-19.
Morgantown hung tough, however, scoring seven of the half’s final 11 points and even cutting the deficit to 37-30 in the third, but Kennedy Catholic proved to be too big, too strong and too fast for the Mohigans, who entered the contest 4-0 on the year.
“We were six-of-21 from three and we made a couple of those early, but if we would have made a couple of those in the third quarter or so we would have been closer,” Tallman explained. “They’re a heck of a team. It was a great challenge for us at the right time. It’s better than going and playing someone you’re going to beat by 50.”
The Eagles’ lead grew to 22 with roughly two minutes to play when Tshiebwe stepped back for a three before Austin threw down a powerful dunk to stretch the advantage to 57-35. Morgantown scored five unanswered, on a Cam Selders layup and a Rudy three, to close things out.
Shortly after the game’s conclusion, Tshiebwe was met with a gaggle of reporters and talked about the opportunity to play in Morgantown and give the Mountaineer a little preview of what is on the horizon.
“I was excited for this and to play in front of the people the people who will be supporting me next year,” the soft spoken forward explained. “I was excited and everyone was showing me love.”
In addition to Tshiebwe’s 25-point, 18-rebound performance Austin added 18 points for the Eagles. Selders and Haines led Morgantown with 12 and 11, respectively.