Louisville hoops spotlight: Chinanu Onuaku

Cardinal Authority will feature each member of the Louisville men's basketball team before the start of the regular-season. Our feature this time is on U of L freshman Chinanu Onuaku.

Chinanu Onuaku will not only be one of the first newcomers off the bench for the University of Louisville this season, but he has a familiar name to U of L fans.

Onuaku (pronounced chih-NAH-noo on-ooh-AHH-koo) had a brother - Arinze Onuaku – who competed against the Cardinals when he played for former Big East rival and now ACC foe %%MATCH_5%% from 2005-2010.

U of L coach Rick Pitino is glad this Onuaku is on his side.

The 6-foot-10, 230-pound freshman from Lanham, Md., is expected to play a key role as a back up at the center position this season. Pitino said Onuaku is one of the most improved players since he arrived on campus.

“He’s jumping, he’s being athletic, and he’s blocking shots,” sophomore Akoy Agau said of Onuaku’s improvement since he’s arrived.

Onuaku said he does feel a difference in his game.

“I want to say I feel younger, but you know I’m not older,” joked Chinanu “I just feel like I have more energy, I can do more things than I used to.”

Known more for his defensive skill set, Onuaku averaged 5.5 blocks per game his senior year of high school at Riverside Baptist, and was twice named top defensive player in the conference.

Even though he was considered a defensive anchor in the middle it did not stop the big man from scoring. He averaged a double-double his senior year with 12.4 points and 12.7 rebounds which led him to being a first team all-state selection, and No. 7 best center prospect in the nation by Scout.com.

Since his arrival at Louisville, Onuaku said the coaching staff has helped improve his offensive game, making him stronger around the basket. He also credits playing against All-American Montrezl Harrell to his progress this offseason.

“I just try to guard and work as hard as he (Harrell) does, and try to get better everyday,” Onuaku said. “He (Harrell) gives a lot of help, he tells us what to do, he tells us what position to be in during plays, and how to play other guys.”

One thing Onuaku has said that keeps him motivated to work hard is that Louisville is going to play a tough schedule with no easy teams.

“I’m just looking forward to the competition nobody, in the ACC is cakewalk,” he said about the schedule.

And without hesitation when asked which game he was most looking forward to in the ACC he quickly said his brothers alma mater: “Syracuse.”


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