Oscar Did What’s Best for Oscar

Morgantown, West Virginia – It’s all starting to become very clear.  The reason that Oscar Tshiebwe left West Virginia was to better prepare himself for professional basketball.

Tshiebwe is slightly undersized for his position in the NBA at 6’8.  This would be a major issue with professional scouts and general managers, particularly with an undeveloped mid-range and outside game.

The same issue applied with Kevin Jones and Sagaba Konate in the past.  They were certainly NBA-caliber players, but they were undersized and were not considered good enough outside shooters to be truly successful at the next level.

Today’s NBA requires that these undersized forwards be able to do it all and have a complete game.  Oscar Tshiebwe was unfortunately on his way to fizzling out in the same way that Jones and Konate did.

To Bob Huggins’ credit, he wants to win basketball games and he wants to win a national championship for the state.  So if Sagaba Konate or Oscar Tshiebwe were to come to him and say that they want to showcase their ability to make outside shots to impress NBA scouts, Huggins would scoff at the notion because he knows that it would not be what’s best for the team.

Huggins actually allowed Konate to do this for a few games during his sophomore season to the detriment of the team.  Konate went from shooting 56% as a freshman to 51% as a sophomore because he started to shoot a bunch of mid-range shots that he had no business shooting, and he was doing it solely to impress professional scouts, not to help the team.

Konate and Tshiebwe were both right, however.  They would need to prove that they are capable shooters in order to make money at the next level.

Huggins wouldn’t have it, though.   Tshiebwe had become very one-dimensional in Huggins’ offense as a post player and garbage rebounder.   We all saw what Tshiebwe’s jumpshot looked like this season.  If West Virginia wanted to be successful and compete for a national championship this season, they would not do so by allowing Oscar Tshiebwe to brick mid-range jumpers all game.

College basketball is an ugly business filled with shady characters.  These people are motivated only by greed and certainly do not care about national championships.  Tshiebwe, an impressionable 20 year old young man who has only been in the country for five years, could easily be convinced that transferring to another situation with another coach would be what’s best for future.

And unfortunately, those shady characters are probably right.  Bob Huggins wasn’t going to compromise his team’s national championship aspirations so that one player could impress scouts.  Wherever Oscar Tshiebwe ends up, his new coach will promise him that he will take on more of a perimeter role with his new team and will be able to showcase his talent for the next level.

Oscar Tshiebwe did what’s best for Oscar Tshiebwe, and it’s really hard to blame him for doing so.  Even if that means letting down his teammates and an entire state that adored him, Oscar had to do what’s best for Oscar.

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Brad Smith
Brad Smith, "The Voice of Morgantown", is the most trusted, accomplished name in West Virginia sports journalism. Smith is the foremost, preeminent authority on West Virginia athletics and a lifelong fan of the Mountaineers. Smith, a proud graduate of West Virginia University, resides in Morgantown most of the year, but has a home in Jacksonville, Florida, where he lives during the winter.