OPINION: Bob Huggins Owes Oscar Tshiebwe An Apology

Morgantown, West Virginia – Bob Huggins is many things – a legendary head coach, someone who clearly cares about his players, a true West Virginian and he’s someone that always keeps it real.

Bob Huggins made a mistake a week ago when he referred to Oscar Tshiebwe as an “alleged McDonald’s All-American” and questioned Tshiebwe’s work ethic.

“When I was growing up in the United States of America, you had to work for what you got,” Huggins said.  “That’s kind of gone now.  That’s the way it used to be and that’s the way it’s going to be as long as I am head ball coach here.”

While Tshiebwe’s departure was obviously a very frustrating, difficult situation for Huggins, it was absolutely wrong for Huggins to take it out on Tshiebwe.  To say that Oscar Tshiebwe was an alleged All-American takes away from all the hard work that Tshiebwe put in to actually earn that honor!  

Oscar Tshiebwe is a 21 year old young man who came to the United States with little knowledge of the inner workings of college basketball and almost certainly got swept up in all of the pressure and intensity that comes along with it.

He struggled last season at West Virginia and there were many people – some nefarious, some not – whispering in his ear about potentially leaving Morgantown.  He ultimately made what he thought was the best decision for his future and, as it turns out, the decision was absolutely the right thing to do for Oscar Tshiebwe. 

It wasn’t the best decision for West Virginia University or the basketball program and certainly not for Bob Huggins, but it was the best decision for Oscar Tshiebwe.  Tshiebwe is averaging 13.4 points and 16.0 rebounds per game for the 4-1 Kentucky Wildcats, and his career has been revived.

Instead of being bitter and angry about Tshiebwe’s decision, Huggins should swallow his pride and apologize for his unnecessary, out-of-line comments about his former player.

Oscar Tshiebwe was asked about Huggins’ comments about him and rather than stooping to Huggins’ level, he took the high road and was complimentary of his former head coach.

“He’s a great coach,” Tshiebwe said of Huggins. “And I know I always work harder, and I’m always trying to get better. Just because things don’t go right doesn’t mean you quit.   I can’t say anything about Bob Huggins, who is a good coach, who coached me and did everything for me and tried to help me.”

It’s unfortunate that a 21 year old with limited English was more articulate and professional than a 68 year old with 40 years of experience in this sport.  Bob Huggins is better than this and should issue an apology.

Should Bob Huggins apologize to Oscar Tshiebwe?