University of Louisville sophomore forward/center Chinanu Onuaku has chosen to remain in the NBA Draft and will forego his remaining two collegiate seasons.
After talking to my family and going through the NBA process, me and my family have decided that it would be best for me to keep my name in the draft. I will take the Terry Rozier route and work my way into the first round. I have talked to Coach Pitino and he is behind me 100%. Thank you to my family and friends for all of the support, love, and prayers that you have given me. I would like to thank the University of Louisville for giving me the opportunity to get an education and play for the university. I would also like to thank all of my coaches for coaching and teaching me for the past two years at Louisville. To my teammates these past two years, you guys will always be my brothers. Thank you to the fans that have cheered me on these past two years. I love the city of Louisville and I know that I will be a cardinal forever. #L1C4 #cardnation #diddabeatgooff
“After speaking with my family and friends and going through the NBA process, I am excited to remain in the draft to continue the pursuit of my dream of playing in the NBA,” said Onuaku. “I have thoroughly enjoyed my two years in Louisville and know that my development as a player and person at UofL is a major factor in where I am today. I will miss my teammates, coaches and the great fans, but I will always be a Cardinal.”
“We thank Nanu for the great effort he has given the University of Louisville,” said UofL Coach Rick Pitino. “We are proud of the improvements he has made as a basketball player and as a young man. He’s extremely young with great potential and there’s not a doubt in my mind that he will go into his individual workouts and show everyone what he’s all about, the same way (former UofL guard) Terry Rozier did a year ago.”
Onuaku averaged 9.9 points, ranked eighth in the ACC in rebounding with 8.5 boards per game and was third in the ACC in blocked shots (2.0 per game, 41st in the nation) while shooting 61.9 percent from the field. The All-ACC Defensive Team selection led UofL with 36 dunks.
Onuaku had 11 double-doubles on the season and 13 for his career, including six consecutive in his first six ACC games during his sophomore year. His 10 double-doubles in ACC games last season ranked second in the league. He was the first Cardinal with six straight double-doubles in 22 years. He made 68 percent of his free throws over the last 13 games (19-of-28) and his season free throw percentage improved 12 points from his freshman year.
The 6-10 Onuaku from Lanham, Md., was honored on the 2016 College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA) Academic All-District 2 Men’s Basketball first team, which recognizes the nation’s top student-athletes for their combined performances athletically and in the classroom. A communication major, he was also among a league-best seven UofL men’s basketball players named to the All-ACC Academic Men’s Basketball team.
While Onuaku started 29 games at center last season, the Cardinals (23-8 in 2015-16) return five talented front line players to remain optimistic about the position. Among the inside strength returning for the Cardinals are Mangok Mathiang, a 6-10 rising senior forward with starting experience whose broken foot sidelined him for the final 21 games of the season; 6-9 junior Jaylen Johnson, who started 22 games last season; 7-0 junior Anas Mahmoud, whose late-season improvement was stifled with an ankle sprain that kept him out the final six games of the year; 6-10 sophomore Ray Spalding, who scored eight or more points in 10 games as a freshman; and 7-0 junior Matz Stockman, who was among the most improved players in practice a year ago.
A total of 68 former Louisville players have been selected in the NBA Draft, including five in the last three years. Those recent five include Terry Rozier (2015, 1st round, 16th overall, Boston Celtics), Montrezl Harrell (2015, 2nd, 32nd, Houston Rockets), Russ Smith (2nd, 47th, Philadelphia 76ers), Gorgui Dieng (2013, 1st, 21st, Utah Jazz) and Peyton Siva (2013, 2nd, 56th, Detroit Pistons).
Louisville has produced 22 first-round NBA Draft choices, including 11 in the top ten and five among the top three picks (Pervis Ellison first in 1989; Wes Unseld second in 1968; Darrell Griffith second in 1980; Charlie Tyra second in 1957; Rodney McCray third in 1983).