The Curious Case of Oscar Tshiebwe

Morgantown, West Virginia – It’s difficult to remember now, but Oscar Tshiebwe was an absolute sensation as a freshman last season.  He had a nonstop motor, was a physical freak and was surprisingly polished offensively for a player that was relatively new to the sport of basketball.

Tshiebwe was a star with meteoric rising potential headed straight for the NBA.

Until this offseason happened.  Tshiebwe reportedly worked out away from the team with his own personal trainer.  He gained weight, he forgot how to finish around the rim and he looks completely and utterly lost on both ends of the floor now.

Oscar Tshiebwe went from one of the most dominant, impressive forces in the entire Big 12 Conference to a player that has unfortunately become a liability for the Mountaineers.  Tshiebwe, who currently averages 8.1 points and 7.0 rebounds per game while shooting 50% from the field, is not explosive around the rim and misses very easy shots two feet from the basket now.  Instead of dunking the ball like he did last season, Tshiebwe opts to gently lay the ball in this year.

The regression from last season to this season is remarkable but not uncommon to West Virginia players.  Look at the difference of Jordan McCabe as a freshman to Jordan McCabe as a junior.  It’s startling!  Or Emmitt Matthews, Jr. as a freshman to Matthews as a junior.  They’ve regressed so much that they aren’t even the same players anymore.

What made Oscar Tshiebwe special was his raw ability and freakish athleticism.  McCabe was impressive as a freshman for his leadership and ability to make passes that others couldn’t.  Matthews, as a freshman, got to the basket and created his own easy shots in the lane.

Now what we have is Tshiebwe missing easy layups, McCabe terrified to do anything wrong on the court because he’ll immediately be pulled and Matthews jacking up three pointers that don’t have a chance of going in.

Instead of playing to their strengths, the Mountaineers seem to shy away from them.  In order for West Virginia to compete for a national championship this season, they’ll need Oscar Tshiebwe to be Oscar Tshiebwe!  Enough of this dainty play around the basket.  Get to the basket and dunk the ball!  Play with some excitement again!  Stop throwing your hands up in disgust and frustration every play!  

West Virginia needs last year’s version of Oscar Tshiebwe again.  We need Oscar Tshiebwe to be the Oscar Tshiebwe that we all know he’s capable of being.