The Kentucky Wildcats ended the 2021-22 men’s college basketball season with a whimper. Heading into the NCAA Tournament, the team was one of the favorites to win the championship. Instead, they lost an overtime matchup to the St. Peter Peacocks in the first round. The Peacocks ended up being the first 15 seeds to reach the Elite Eight, so maybe they were better than people thought. Still, it was a disappointing end to a solid season.
As the Wildcats work on their games this offseason, one player is working on improving his NIL portfolio.
The Wildcats took a trip to the Bahamas to play in four exhibition games, using the time to build a stronger connection as a team. But star striker Oscar Tshiebwe had a slightly different schedule. He had NO obligations each day of the week-long trip. Because Tshiebwe, who is from the Democratic Republic of Congo, plays on a student visa, he cannot fully participate in NIL offers unless he is outside the United States. So when the team is on an international trip, he makes the most of it. Tshiebwe earned around $500,000 for seven days of work and earned around $2.75 million from NIL contracts.
Before he could unpack his suitcase, he had already done promos for four different companies. Athleticism detailed some of his activities, including spinning a basketball on his finger while holding a box of pizza and wearing a Kentucky-themed Santa hat. He also had to sign around 2,000 trading cards and other team memorabilia. Wildcats coach John Calipari has scheduled team activities around Tshiebwe’s obligations. Calipari is certainly no stranger to making money, so he understood what was at stake.
Tshiebwe may not currently have the same opportunities as some of his American teammates, but he is finding clever loopholes in the meantime. He earns about $20,000 a month from teamwear sales and he’s applied to change his student visa to an international celebrity visa. If approved, he can start winning without exception.
For his part, Tshiebwe is using the money to help his family and fellow DRC citizens. He took some of the money he earned to buy his mother a house and fed children in his home country. Some of his NIL partners have charitable aspects, donating to his Big O Foundation to provide food, clothing, school supplies and educational initiatives across DR Congo.
If the NIL rules do eventually change, people in Tshiebwe’s camp believe he could earn double what he’s already earned, from speaking engagements to TV and radio commercials to social media promotions.
Until then, Tshiebwe will have to manage when he is outside the country. Half a million dollars in a week is incredible efficiency.