Oscar, Livingston to stay in NBA Draft; Reeves opts out but future murky

Published 10:51 am Thursday, June 1, 2023

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Neither Oscar Tshiebwe, nor Chris Livingston will be returning to Kentucky next season.

Both opted to remain in the NBA Draft on Wednesday, the last day to stay in the draft or return to school. Tshiebwe, the 2021-22 consensus National Player of the Year, announced his future plans on social media.

“I would like to thank Coach (John Calipari) and his staff for their support and belief in me during my life at UK,” Tshiebwe said in a post on Instagram Wednesday. “Lastly, I would like to thank BBN for the love, support and loyalty you have given me and my teammates over the years. I wouldn’t want to play for anyone or anywhere else…I hope as I continue to fight for my dream of playing in the NBA, you will continue to support me. Thank you BBN for everything and I am so lucky to always call Kentucky home.”

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The 6-foot-9 forward isn’t a guarantee to be selected in the draft set for June 22. He led Kentucky in rebounds during the past two years and averaged a double-double with 16.5 points and 13.7 rebounds per game. He led the nation in rebounding during the past two years. He was an All-American selection in each of the past two years.

“Oscar achieved things that no other player has in decades, and I wish we could have won more but he gave everything he had to Kentucky,” Calipari said. “He also became the first member of his family to receive a college diploma and I know how much that means to him and, more importantly, (to) his mother.”

Calipari added Tshiebwe “had a great opportunity to return and break more records and set the national bar for NIL again, but he is ready to fully chase his dreams and he has our support.”

“He is ready for the next level because he has a skill that is elite and will translate to that league,” the Kentucky coach said. “I’m excited to watch his journey unfold, but I know Lexington and the BBN will always be home to him.”

Antonio Reeves removed his name from the draft, but was non-committal on whether he would return to Kentucky or transfer elsewhere. Cason Wallace and Jacob Toppin have already fully declared for the draft, while Sahvir Wheeler (Washington), Daimion Collins (LSU) and Lance Ware (Villanova) have already transferred.

Reeves could still move to another school for the 2023-24 season as a graduate transfer, but he would need to complete his degree at Kentucky before he could do that and be granted automatic eligibility.

If he doesn’t finish his degree this summer, he could also transfer and attempt to get a waiver from the NCAA to play immediately. Or he could play one more season at UK.

Reeves has not yet made a public announcement regarding his future plans. CBS Sports’ Jon Rothstein first reported that he would remove his name from the draft.

Livingston will also stay in the NBA Draft per multiple media reports. He played in all 34 games, starting 26. A 6-6, 220-pound freshman from Akron, Ohio, Livingston was fifth on the team in minutes played, and averaged 6 points and 4 rebounds per game.

The incoming freshmen class will be led by Reed Sheppard, Justin Edwards, D.J. Wagner and Aaron Bradshaw.