Kentucky basketball star Oscar Tshiebwe will have to keep on wearing his No. 34 jersey then…
Of course, the NCAA will not allow Kentucky basketball star Oscar Tshiebwe to switch his jersey number ahead of this upcoming season.
The reigning National Player of the Year wanted to switch from the No. 34 jersey he wore a season ago to No. 9. This move would symbolize the one overarching goal for the Wildcats this year: To win national championship No. 9 in program history. With him being the best player on the team, as well as one of the best in men’s basketball, one would think he would be allowed to do this…
“We all got one goal, it’s for No. 9,” said Tshiebwe during Thursday’s media press conference. “I came back for one reason and I hope God will fulfill our purpose. Before I leave here — I don’t just come in, pick up my trophy, and go home… Number nine, that’s my purpose.”
As the NCAA rules state, a player cannot wear a jersey with any digits higher than five. This is to allow the referees to be able to signal with their hands numbers zero through five. Clearly, the NCAA is not about to go to 11, as they cannot even get more than halfway there to six. This may be a rule you may be familiar with during your time in youth sports, but this is flat-out ridiculous…
“Why did the NCAA stop with No. 5? You cannot go up,” said Tshiebwe. “I was trying to get No. 9, to wear No. 9, just to remember this is my number for this year, I have a purpose for this number but they told me I can’t wear No. 9. The numbers stop at five. I was like ,’wow this is crazy.’”
Here is Tshiebwe’s entire conversation with the Kentucky basketball media from Thursday.
Oscar Tshiebwe not allowed to switch jersey number because the NCAA said so
Look. If any Kentucky player was going to be allowed to wear the No. 9 jersey this season, it would have been Tshiebwe. He is a team leader and one of the very best players in the sport today. If Tshiebwe rocking the No. 9 would have allowed for more team unity, then more power to him. However, this is yet another example of how out of touch the NCAA is with the student-athletes.
This rule is in place probably because of scorekeepers in the pre-internet world who had terrible eyesight. It is not 1970, it is 2022. While there are plenty of jersey numbers prevalent in college football that are sacred to a university (No. 7 at LSU, No. 11 at Penn State, No. 38 at Ole Miss, etc.), basketball is so different. Numbers do get retired with greater regularity in this particular sport.
With Tshiebwe returning to school for his senior season, he will be able to capitalize on all the NIL opportunities that come his way. Regardless of what number he is wearing, his No. 34 uniform will be selling like hot cakes should Kentucky go on a deep tournament run. He could have benefited from No. 34 and No. 9 becoming synonymous with his play for Big Blue Nation, but here we are.
If there is not a good reason to keep a rule in place, it is in everyone’s best interest to get rid of it.
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