Oscar Tshiebwe named NABC National Player of the Year


Kentucky Wildcats forward Oscar Tshiebwe (34) hypes up the crowd during the UK vs. Vanderbilt SEC Tournament quarterfinals mens basketball game on Friday, March 11, 2022, at Amalie Arena in Tampa, Florida. UK won 77-71. Photo by Michael Clubb | Staff

Hunter Shelton

Kentucky forward Oscar Tshiebwe has once again made history, becoming the first Wildcat and the first Southeastern conference player to be named the National Player of the Year by the National Association of Basketball Coaches.

Tshiebwe was also selected as the Pete Newell Big Man of the Year. He is the second UK player to earn the award, joining Anthony Davis, who claimed the honor in 2012.

“First of all, I want to thank God for everything that he has done for me and my family,” Tshiebwe said. “I want to also thank my coaches, the UK staff and most importantly my teammates for helping me to get to where I am today.” 

The West Virginia transfer became the first player to finish a season averaging at least 15 points and 15 rebounds per game in over 40 years, when Drake’s Lewis Lloyd and Alcorn State’s Larry Smith each did so during the 1979-80 season.

Tshiebwe became just the third player in program history to haul in 500 or more rebounds, finishing with 515 boards. He was also the only major conference player to average at least 1.6 blocks and 1.6 steals per game in the 2021-22 season. 

The big man was a double-double machine, setting a program single-season record with 28, including a stretch where he amassed 16 in a row, the longest streak in UK history since records were kept. 

“The things that he’s done haven’t been done for 50 years,” UK coach John Calipari said. “He plays his heart out and finds ways to impact every game. I’m proud of him, and it’s not only on the court. He’s so thankful and faith-based and he’s a joy to coach.”

The NABC has honored the nation’s best player since 1975, as well as the nation’s best big man since 2000. 

“I also want to thank the Big Blue Nation for your support. I’m very grateful for everything. God bless,” Tshiebwe said.