Fall 2023

Oscar Tshiebwe striving to continue sharing Gospel as he begins pro career with Pacers

The story of Oscar Tshiebwe‘s rebounding prowess begins with a game in high school. His team was losing, and he wanted to find a way to help. Tshiebwe decided he was just going to grab “everything.”

He soon realized he could be a dominant force on the glass.

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“I found out it was one of the greatest gifts God has ever given me. … I believe I can do it in the NBA too because God has given me that gift, and I’m not letting that gift die,” Tshiebwe said while talking about his rebounding abilities after a pre-draft workout with the Portland Trail Blazers. “I’m going to use it to help teams win championships.”

The consensus national player of the year at Kentucky in 2021-22, Tshiebwe was not selected in last week’s NBA draft but signed a two-way contract with the Indiana Pacers on Friday. He will play on the Pacers’ Summer League team as well.

After beginning his college career at West Virginia, Tshiebwe transferred to Kentucky and became one of the most dominant forces in college basketball. He averaged 16.9 points and 14.4 rebounds in his two years with the Wildcats, earning All-American honors both seasons.

Following his pre-draft workout with the Pacers, Tshiebwe was asked when he realized his dream of playing in the NBA could be possible. His answer centered around his faith in God, which is the driving force of his life as well as his basketball career.

“I know that Scripture tells us anything is possible with God,” he said. “So, the moment I started playing basketball, I remembered that God said everything is possible. That’s when I realized I could do anything through Jesus Christ who gives me strength.”

Tshiebwe said on the Sports Spectrum Podcast in November that his faith began to take off when he moved from the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the United States for high school. He began using his platform to share the Gospel and even delivered sermons during his time at Kentucky.

Prayer played a key role in his decision to return to college for the 2022-23 season. Instead of relying on people’s advice, Tshiebwe looked to God for guidance.

“When you submit everything to God, that means you trust Him,” Tshiebwe said on the podcast. “You believe He’s going to help you, and the one thing about that is He’s not going to lead you in the wrong way. He’s always going to make sure you do the right things and always protect you.”

As he gets set to begin his professional career, Tshiebwe wants to use the sport of basketball to serve and minister to people around the world. Thus, he has thought about becoming a pastor at some point down the road.

“I want people to be saved,” Tshiebwe said on the podcast. “I want people to not just focus on what is happening today in the world. I want everybody to pick up a cross and follow Jesus because that’s how everybody is going to be saved. … The only thing that will never pass away is your relationship with God.”

Indiana’s first Summer League game is against the Washington Wizards on July 8. The Pacers then face the Orlando Magic (July 10), Oklahoma City Thunder (July 12) and Dallas Mavericks (July 14).

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