"I think Onuaku's got a chance to do well in the draft," ESPN college basketball analyst Jay Bilas said in a Tuesday teleconference with the media. "I think he's a second-round pick, but high up in the second round. He's got good size, but he runs the floor pretty well and he can rebound and block shots."
Bolstered by his 7-foot-2 3/4 inch wingspan, those three facets of Onuaku's game made him a force at Riverdale Baptist, when he averaged 12.3 points, 11 rebounds and more than three blocks as a senior to earn All-Met honors. Here's a taste of what he was like as an interior force during that season:
In two years at Louisville, Onuaku continued to make his mark, beginning with a strong finish to his freshman season and a breakout sophomore campaign that positioned him as an intriguing draft prospect. But even as he put up averages of 9.9 points, 8.5 rebounds and two blocks while earning a spot on the all-ACC defensive team, Onuaku's choice to shoot his free throws "granny" style generated perhaps the largest buzz surrounding his game.
The switch helped him improve his shooting at the line from 46.7 percent as a freshman to 58.9 percent this past season at Louisville. On one hand, his free-throw struggles are a knock against a player whom Bilas estimates scores "95 percent" of his points around the rim. But considering Los Angeles Clippers center DeAndre Jordan earned first-team all-NBA honors this past season while shooting 43 percent from the foul line, most NBA teams aren't likely to be too scared away by Onuaku due to his inefficiency at the line.
Offsetting Onuaku's foul shooting is his ability to knock down the mid-range jumper, when he takes it. His range actually stretches out to the three-point line, where he hit several shots while trailing the break at Riverdale Baptist. But it's safe to say, he'll do almost all of his damage at the next level in the paint and on the defensive end.
A minor heart procedure last month to correct a previously undetected rhythm issue forced him to miss several team workouts and could create concerns among some teams, according to ESPN draft analyst Chad Ford. But while that's fresh in the minds of some, so too is his strong performance at the NBA Draft combine. Between Onuaku's ripe age of 19 and his NBA-ready body fueled by an aggressive, blue-collar mentality, he appears to be a lock to be the latest D.C. area product to be picked in the NBA draft.
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