5-star center Tshiebwe: Huggins ‘is going to treat me like his son and push me every day’

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — For 36 seasons the recruiting battles for West Virginia basketball coach Bob Huggins have involved phone calls, in-home visits and across-the-country scouting trips in search of players.

“You’re happy with each one you get,” Huggins said. “But you’re happy for different reasons.”

Five-star recruit Oscar Tshiebwe made Huggins and his coaching staff very happy Saturday when the 6-foot-8, 230-pound forward announced his commitment to West Virginia.

Tshiebwe, a native of Congo who attends Kennedy Catholic in Hermitage, Pa., chose the Mountaineers over finalists Kentucky, Baylor and Illinois.

In an interview with Rivals.com, Tshiebwe credited West Virginia for being the first school to notice him:

“They have been on me for the longest time and just for me, I just felt the best there and that they could make me the best I can be,” he said.

“I feel like I am the most comfortable around Coach Huggins compared to any of the coaches that were recruiting me. He said that he is going to treat me like his son and push me every day. He has always said that I was his only guy that he wanted and that I was his priority.”

Tshiebwe shot up the national recruiting rankings this summer, playing with ITPS Wildcats, an AAU team based in Pennsylvania.

In March, Tshiebwe was not ranked, but by last month, had shot up to No. 21 overall by Rivals.com.

That ranking makes him the second-highest recruit to commit to WVU — after Devin Ebanks, who was ranked 11th by Rivals.com in 2008 — since Huggins took over as coach in 2007.

Tshiebwe is ranked No. 32 nationally by ESPN.

West Virginia first offered a scholarship in the summer of 2016, following Tshiebwe’s freshman season. Mountaineers assistant Ron Everhart first saw Tshiebwe while recruiting forward Maceij Bender at Mount Mission in Grundy, Va.

Through the years, Huggins said that changes in culture and technology have made an impact in the recruiting game.

In the end, though, relationships and trust matter, Huggins said. It’s the ability to look each other in the eye and create a mutual bond.

“I’ve always thought and I still think we always get guys because of relationships,” Huggins said days before Tshiebwe’s announcement. “The relationships I have with the people in their ears; the relationships [WVU assistants] Larry [Harrison], Ronnie and Erik [Martin] had with them.”

As with any recruiting pitch, Huggins, who isn’t permitted to speak about Tshiebwe until he signs a national letter-of-intent, said he leaned on West Virginia’s practice facility and the family atmosphere that surrounds the facility with any number of former players who come in to work out.

“But, it still comes down to relationships,” Huggins said. “In the end, there is a lot of crazy stuff that goes on. There are a lot of things said and done that are crazy. You have to have somebody on the inside that kind of says, ‘Wait a minute, let’s sit down and talk again about what’s really important.”

Tshiebwe joins a recruiting class that includes Miles McBride, a 6-foot-1 point guard from Cincinnati.

Esa Ahmad is the only scholarship senior on the team, but junior forward Sagaba Konate is projected in several mock drafts as a 2019 NBA first-round pick and could leave school early.


Player Class Rivals
Devin Ebanks 2008 No. 11
Oscar Tshiebwe 2019 No. 21
No. 32
Kevin Jones 2008 No. 73
No. 34
Elijah Macon 2013 No. 56
No. 45
Devin Williams 2013 No. 64
No. 42
Esa Ahmad 2015 No. 72 No. 46
Noah Cottrill 2010 No. 82 No. 73
Derek Culver 2018 No. 89 No. 63
Jabarie Hinds 2011 No. 93 NA
Tommie McCune 2011 No. 102 No. 63
Emmitt Matthews 2018 No. 125 NA
Sagaba Konate 2016 No. 137 NA
Dalton Pepper 2009 No. 139 No. 96
Trey Doomes 2018 No. 142 NA
Jordan McCabe 2018 No. 147 No. 86
Deniz Kilicli 2009 NA No. 47
Danny Jennings 2009 NA No. 60
Truck Bryant 2008 NA No. 90

More Sports

High School Sports
Minutemen relishing opportunity that awaits with program's first state tournament showing since 1986
No. 4 Lewis County overcame a 3-7 start to the season to play in the state tournament for the first time in 37 seasons. The Minutemen meet top seed Winfield on Friday.
May 31, 2023 - 8:09 am
Marshall Sports
Randy Moss nominated for spot in College Football Hall of Fame
Moss had a pair of exceptional seasons for the Thundering Herd in 1996 and 1997.
May 30, 2023 - 10:12 pm
New season and fresh start await WVU in NCAA Regionals
By many metrics, 2023 is the best season in the Randy Mazey era at WVU.
May 30, 2023 - 3:58 pm
High School Sports
Shady Spring returns, others break lengthy state tournament droughts in Class AA
Winfield has earned the No. 1 seed and a contest with No. 4 Lewis County Friday evening.
May 30, 2023 - 9:00 am