Morgantown, West Virginia – The West Virginia Mountaineers are one of the worst rebounding teams in the entire nation. 243rd in the nation to be exact.
Former West Virginia star forward Oscar Tshiebwe, who transferred to the University of Kentucky in the middle of last season, leads all of college basketball in rebounds, averaging 15.2 per game. Tshiebwe is also averaging 16.3 points and 1.9 blocks per game, and he’s the leading candidate for the national player of the year.
Tonight, Tshiebwe led Kentucky in a 78-54 route of the Kansas Jayhawks at Allen Fieldhouse, scoring 15 points and pulling down 15 rebounds.
Despite what Huggins and West Virginia fans believe, Oscar Tshiebwe is the exact player that the Mountaineers need right now. The lack of interior play for West Virginia is startling and losing Tshiebwe is absolutely the reason why the team is struggling so badly this season.
Huggins is a legendary head coach, but he’s also one of the most stubborn people in all of sports. He’s not willing to change or make adjustments for anyone, especially not some “so-called All-American”, as he called Tshiebwe.
Unfortunately, Huggins’ stubbornness cost the Mountaineers their best recruit ever and the best, most dominant player in the nation this season. Players like Oscar Tshiebwe don’t come along very often and it’s the responsibility of the head coach to keep a once-in-a-lifetime player like Tshiebwe happy.
Keeping Oscar Tshiebwe should have been Huggins’ top priority, even if that means changing his philosophy and strategy. Tshiebwe is the type of player that Bob Huggins could have built his entire program around. His athleticism, motor and rebounding ability are unmatched in college basketball and he is the prototypical Huggins’ player.
Kentucky’s head coach, John Calipari, is the best coach in the country at preparing student-athletes for the next level in the NBA, and Oscar Tshiebwe clearly made the best decision for himself by transferring to play for him. At West Virginia, Tshiebwe was likely not going to be drafted. Now, he’s considered a top-tier NBA prospect.
Oscar Tshiebwe is a tremendous young man and he did what was best for him and his family, but he sure is greatly missed at West Virginia.