Morgantown, West Virginia – Oscar Tshiebwe is the most talented and physically imposing player in college basketball right now. He won’t necessarily make many (any?) of the preseason player of the year lists, but he absolutely should.
Tshiebwe, who averaged 11.2 points, 9.3 rebounds a game while shooting 55% from the field as a freshman last season, was ranked by ESPN as the 10th best returning player for the upcoming season: “Tshiebwe’s first season with the Mountaineers had ‘outrageous potential’ written all over it. The 6-9 freshman ranked No. 1 in the nation in offensive rebound percentage, and, incredibly, that was with 6-10 Derek Culver occasionally playing alongside him and competing for those same second chances. Tshiebwe was also unusually competent (71%) at the line for a shot-blocking freshman. If breakout sophomores are still a thing in this strange new sports era, Tshiebwe will be at the top of that list for 2021.”
Among those mentioned as potential Naismith Award winners – given to the nation’s most outstanding player – are Kansas’ Marcus Garrett, Villanova’s Collin Gillespie, Ayo Dosunmu from Illinois, Xavier Tillman of Michigan State, Filip Petrusev from Gonzaga, and Iowa’s Luka Garza, who considered by most experts to be the favorite to win the award this season.
Garza, a senior, averaged 23 points, nine rebounds, and one assist while shooting 54% from the field last season as a junior. Garza was an All-American this year, a finalist in the Naismith Award, a finalist in the Wooden Award, first-team All-Big Ten and the Big Ten Player of the Year.
Outside of Garza, Tshiebwe is already more accomplished in college than most of the other players on preseason player of the year lists and although he struggled at times with consistency and staying out of foul trouble, he is a sponge and learned a lot from the West Virginia coaching staff last season. His continual work during the offseason combined with his raw athletic ability will make him almost unstoppable force in the upcoming basketball season.
The West Virginia Mountaineers started workouts today and feature the most talented roster since Bob Huggins has been in Morgantown. Oscar Tshiebwe can not only win the Naismith Award as the nation’s best player, he can lead the Mountaineers to a National Championship this season.