The Kentucky Wildcats are in the middle of a slate of preseason exhibition games in the Bahamas, but Oscar Tshiebwe is not lounging on the beach during his free time. The reigning National Player of the Year is using his time wisely and is expected to earn around $500,000 this week, The Athletic reported.
This is the third time the Kentucky men's basketball team is playing exhibitions in the Bahamas, and the second time they've done it it in four years.
Tshiebwe, who was born in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, is currently on a student visa, which means he has limitations when it comes to appearing in promotional content for NIL deals in the United States. However, Tshiebwe has figured out how to get around it and, per report, will have earned a total of total to $2.75 million in NIL deals by the end of the week. Tshiebwe has been able to earn money off his likeness through things like merchandise.
This week when he is not participating in games, practices or other team activities, Tshiebwe is spending his free time in the Bahamas working on ad reads, doing merchandise signings and photoshoots. Per the Athletic, he did promotional work with four different companies on Monday before he even got a chance to unpack his suitcase. The following day, he stayed on the basketball court for two extra hours after practice to do a photoshoot for a pizza company.
Kyle Tucker reported that at the first team meeting, head coach John Calipari allowed Tshiebwe to miss team activities the whole day to shoot commercials.
The 6-foot-9 forward took all six NCAA-recognized POY awards after a successful junior season in which he averaged 17.4 points, 15.2 rebounds (best in the country) and 1.8 steals per game. He tested the NBA Draft waters but chose to return to Kentucky to improve his stock. Even though the season hasn't started yet, he is making the best out of it already.
Tshiebwe told The Athletic that having the opportunity to make money felt like "God opened a door" of opportunity for him to help his family and others.
"I found out my mom was living in the worst situation. They lived like animals," he said on the interview. "I put in the work, trusted in God, and God has changed their living situation. I'm very happy. I can take care of my mom, take care of my brothers and sisters. Now I don't worry. I used to be like, 'I have no money. How can I help them?' "
In the same interview, he said last time he went back home he was able to help more than 1,000 orphans. One of his motivations to keep working hard, even while in the Bahamas, is to be able to make more money to help feel more children and help them go to school for free.
Getting the opportunity to make money has not been easy. In February, he said he was finally "open for business" after joining a sports agency. Two months later, Tshiebwe met with lawmakers to push for a change in the current NIL rules for foreign athletes in hopes that they stop being so limited with what opportunities they can take.
His business endeavors have not distracted Tshiebwe from basketball. The Wildcats started their exhibitions on a high note as they defeated a Dominican Republic National Select Team 108-56 on Wednesday. Tshiebwe led his team in scoring with 17 points on 8-for-11 shooting from the field.
Next up will be a game against Tec de Monterrey, a Mexican college team, on Thursday. No games on Friday, but the action will continue this weekend as they take on Carleton University (Canada) on Saturday, and the Bahamas National Select Team on Sunday.