Tshiebwe Chooses WVU Over Kentucky
West Virginia saw persistence pay off on Saturday when long-time recruit Oscar Tshiebwe announced his commitment to the Mountaineer men’s basketball program.
Tshiebwe chose the Mountaineers over finalists Kentucky, Baylor and Illinois, but that was just the tip of the iceberg of offers that he enjoyed. Schools from across the nation, including Baylor, Clemson, Georgetown, Georgia Tech, Kansas, Mississippi, Oklahoma State, Pitt, Penn State, Rutgers, Virginia and Virginia Tech were just some of the school hoping to add him to their frontcourts of the future.
Offered a scholarship more than two years ago by WVU, Tshiebwe was, at the time, a raw prospect playing at Mountain Mission School in Grundy, Va. West Virginia saw him while recruiting another international player, Maciej Bender. Intrigued by his size and athletic ability, West Virginia was first in with an offer in July, 2016, and as stayed in close contact with the rapidly improving big man ever since.
Tshiebwe, a native of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, first showed his talents as a rim protector and a rebounder. That’s a common trait for many players with limited basketball background, which Tshiebwe also has. He played just one year in his home country before coming to the U.S. in October of 2105. In the Congo, as in many other nations with limited basketball opportunities, defense is usually ahead of offense, which requires more time to coach, teach and develop.
Tshiebwe (6-9, 245 lbs.) applied his excellent leaping and timing ability to the defensive end and the backboards right off the bat, but since coming to the U.S. has been honing his offensive game. That started out with work at the rim, where offensive rebounds and passes at the rim were turned into dunks. Over the past three years, he has begun adding more, including some fundamental post moves. Goals for the future include honing his post game, developing a mid-range jumper and handling the ball on the dribble – staples for an NBA big man, which he hopes one day to be.
His play on both ends of the court began melding during and after his junior season, when he put together a string of excellent performances on the AAU circuit. Going up against some of the best competition in the nation, Tshiebwe more than held his own. In several cases, he dominated the competition, thus rising from a relative unknown to a national-level recruit.
If all this sounds familiar, it’s because it is. Tshiebwe is following the path of current Mountaineer Sagaba Konate, who came to the U.S. from Mali to play at Kennedy Catholic High School in Hermitage, Pa. Tshiebwe played at Mountain Mission for two years before transferring to Hermitage prior to last season, where he teamed with Maceo Austin – a WVU recruit who has committed to Duquesne –, to help the Golden Eagles win their third consecutive Pennsylvania interscholastic Athletic Association Class 1A state championship. The first of that trio was powered by Konate.