Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
NBA Draft 2023: Kentucky’s Oscar Tshiebwe says ‘I believe there will be a team in the NBA that will love what I do’
By ADAM ZAGORIACHICAGO — The days of dominant low-post big man in the NBA appear to be over, but Kentucky’s Oscar Tshiebwe believes there’s still a place in the NBA for him.
“I believe there will be a team in the NBA, they’re going to love what I do and they’re going to train me for all the things I need to learn and I’ll help them,” the 6-foot-9 Tshiebwe, a native of the Congo, said here Wednesday after putting up 10 points, 16 rebounds and 2 blocks in his team’s 107-88 victory at Wintrust Arena.
The 2022 National Player of the Year, he returned to Kentucky last season and averaged 16.5 points and a nation’s best 13.7 rebounds.
He’s already worked out for the Celtics, Bucks, Rockets and Kings. He has until May 31 to withdraw from the draft.
“My main strength is rebounding and running the floor,” he said. “I set the ball screen and roll…I think I can really help a team to win in the NBA.
“My biggest advantage is my wingspan and my speed,” he added. “You see many people at 7-feet tall, I’m longer than their wingspan and it gives me an advantage.”
Oscar Tshiebwe of @KentuckyMBB has worked out for the Celtics, Bucks, Rockets and Kings
He said he’s also been working on passing, his corner 3 and his defense.
“All those things I’ve been working on and it’s getting better,” he said.
He wants to “extend my game” to play similar to Miami’s Bam Adebayo.
Tshiebwe is not projected to be drafted per ESPN.com or Tankathon and could end up being an undrafted free agent or Two-Way guy.
“He’ll for sure get a Two-Way,” one scout here said.
The major obstacle for players like Sanogo and UConn’s Adama Sanogo, also not projected to get drafted, is that the NBA now values mobile big men who can stretch the floor and shoot, and neither of them is that type of player at this point, although Sanogo has shown the ability to shoot the three.
“It’s a copycat league and there isn’t anyone like them in the playoffs,” the scout said.
Kansas coach Bill Self, here watching several of his players, believes there’s a place in the NBA for guys like Tshiebwe and Sanogo.
“The NBA doesn’t really put the same value on the same thing college coaches do,” Self said. “Or vice versa.
“But I still believe there’s a place in the league for [Sanogo], there’s a place in the league for Oscar. There’s a place in the league for these guys but it may not be like it used to be where guys are playing a traditional four man or a traditional five man.
“They’re not going to. Your five man, your four man, are a totally different skillset than we saw 15 years ago.”
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Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle.
A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013.
He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.