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Kentucky’s Oscar Tshiebwe to return for senior season

NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament - First Round - Indianapolis

INDIANAPOLIS, INDIANA - MARCH 17: Oscar Tshiebwe #34 of the Kentucky Wildcats against the Saint Mary’s Gaels during the first round of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament at Gainbridge Fieldhouse on March 17, 2022 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

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LEXINGTON, Ky. -- Kentucky forward Oscar Tshiebwe says he will return for his senior season with the Wildcats after a breakout season in which he swept national player of the year awards.

The junior’s decision was the most anticipated from a Wildcats squad that rode his dominant performance, especially on the boards. Tshiebwe led the nation with 15.1 rebounds per game and averaged 17.4 points. He also had 60 steals and 55 blocks. He finished the season with 16 consecutive double-doubles on the way to a school-record 28 that surpassed Kentucky great Dan Issel (26).

The West Virginia transfer helped Kentucky return to the NCAA Tournament before collecting numerous individual honors from The Associated Press and others, including the Naismith and Wooden awards as the nation’s top player.

Tshiebwe, who is from the Congo, said on the broadcast that he prayed and consulted with his mother before deciding last week to return to school. Tshiebwe said it was his dream to be an NBA lottery pick, but draft projections had him going in the second round.

Tshiebwe’s affable personality on the court and accessibility off has made him extremely popular among Kentucky’s fan base as he fulfilled autograph and selfie requests. He spoke often about his faith in interviews, which put him in demand to speak at churches in Lexington and around the state.