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Illini Hoops Recruiting Spotlight: Oscar Tshiebwe

The Virginia big man will be on campus for the Penn State game.

Lexington Herald Leader

Last week the Illini held their first official visit of the cycle when they hosted Anthony Walker. The next pair of official visits is slated to come during the weekend of the Penn State football game. Oscar Tshiebwe and Terrence Shannon Jr. are scheduled to be on campus to take in the sights and sounds of Champaign-Urbana.

Let’s focus on Tshiebwe today.

The Facts

Oscar Tshiebwe is a 6-foot-9, 230-pound center from Virginia. The big man is a consensus 4-star recruit and top-50 player in the class of 2019.

Illinois is among the final four schools on Tshiebwe’s list.

As of now, he is scheduled to take visits to all four schools over the next month.

  • Baylor (September 13th)
  • Illinois (September 21st)
  • Kentucky (September 28th)
  • West Virginia (October 5th)

Additionally, Illinois has scheduled an in home visit with Tshiebwe this week.

It’s a strong group. At this point, it appears Bob Huggins and WVU have the inside track to the local star. However, it would be wise to never count out Calipari in any recruiting battle.

Perhaps most importantly, we would get to call him ‘The Big O’.

The Player

There’s a reason teams like Baylor and Kentucky are after Tshiebwe. He is really impressive. He’s comparable to Francis Okoro, who Illinois was recruiting for 2018, but he then committed to Oregon.

Tshiebwe has a college-ready body. He’s got the shoulders and the strength to hold his own on the glass in the B1G from the jump. What makes him impressive, is that he doesn’t sacrifice speed and athleticism for that impressive size and strength. Tshwiebe can explode off two feet and dunk just about anything from anywhere. He runs the floor well for as big as he is, and can even lead the break a little bit if the situation calls for it.

The big man also has great footwork and lateral quickness on both ends of the floor. He could swith onto smaller guards on the perimeter if asked to do so, as well as stick with anyone down low. On the offensive end he has shown some pretty good post moves and really good touch around the rim with both hands.

If there’s a weakness, it’s that he doesn’t have an outside shot. But if you are built like Tshiebwe, you really don’t need one.

The Fit

Great. The fit would be great. Tshiebwe would come in and likely be the favorite to start at the 5 from day one, barring an amazing freshman year from Samba Kane.

The Big O would be a great compliment to the front court pieces Underwood brought in with his last class. Kane is more of a rim protector and runner with the hope of an outside shot on the way. G-Bez is a stretch four or five. Tshiebwe’s would really round out the front court nicely. He would provide more strength and rebounding that you would expect out of a traditional center, while still having the ability to play the high tempo, exciting, and athletic style of basketball that Underwood wants to play. He also would would likely be the best low-post scorer of the three at this juncture in their careers.

Need more rim protection? Go with Kane. Need some floor spacing and a matchup problem for the opponent? Go with G-Bez. Need an elite big man who can do a little bit of everything? The Big O.

I wouldn’t be too optimistic here. I would bet that he’s either going to be WVU or UK. Both of those visits will come after the Illinois visit though, so Underwood and Co. will get a chance to leave an impression on the young center. This would be a massive get that would solve the front court woes for the foreseeable future. If you hear “Oscar Tshiebwe commits to Illinois” over the next month or so.... be really excited.