Kentucky basketball’s Oscar Tshiebwe signs two-way contract with Indiana Pacers


Samuel Colmar

Kentucky Wildcats forward Oscar Tshiebwe (34) reacts to a call during the No. 6 Kentucky vs. No. 3 Kansas State mens basketball game in the second round of the NCAA Tournament on Sunday, March 19, 2023, at Greensboro Coliseum in Greensboro, North Carolina. Kansas State won 75-69. Photo by Samuel Colmar | Staff

Cole Parke, Sports Editor

Kentucky men’s basketball’s Oscar Tshiebwe signed a two-way contract with the Indiana Pacers on Friday after going undrafted in the 2023 NBA Draft.

The Pacers opted not to draft the big man during the draft, instead taking Belmont’s Ben Sheppard and Miami’s Isaiah Wong while also trading three picks away. With Tshiebwe going undrafted, the team decided to sign him to a two-way contract, meaning he will sign with both the Pacers and the team’s G-League affiliate, the Fort Wayne Mad Ants.

Tshiebwe played two seasons in Lexington after transferring from West Virginia.

Adjusting to his new team quickly, Tshiebwe erupted in the 2021-22 season, averaging 17.4 points and 15.1 rebounds per game, an average of a double-double.

The big man was rewarded for his efforts when he became the first ever consensus National Player of the Year in Kentucky history.

Though many felt he had accomplished all there was to accomplish in the collegiate game, the combination of lukewarm draft response and UK’s crushing first round NCAA Tournament exit against No. 15 Saint Peter’s led to “Big O” announcing his return to Lexington for another season.

Starting the year off with knee surgery, Tshiebwe’s second year in Lexington was a step down from the first but still saw the big man average 16.5 points per game, including a career-high 37 points against Georgia in January, and 13.7 rebounds per game, once again averaging a double-double.

He finished his career at Kentucky sixth in the all-time leaderboard for rebounds and second in program history in double-doubles. His 952 rebounds marked the most by any Wildcat in two seasons.

Tshiebwe announced he would be testing the waters of the NBA Draft after some thought following the Wildcats’ loss to Kansas State in the second round of the NCAA Tournament and officially announced his permanent departure from the Wildcats on May 31, the deadline for players to remove their names from the draft.

Now joining the Pacers Tshiebwe will join fellow former Wildcat Isaiah Jackson in Indianapolis along with likely future star Tyrese Haliburton.