When Chinanu Onuaku arrived on campus prior to the start of the season, University of Louisville head coach Rick Pitino stunned by how out of shape the former four-star prospect was as individual instruction began.
Originally expected to be one of the first off the bench for the Cardinals this season, the 6-foot-10, 230-pound post player put in the work as the season neared and earned a starting spot as the team opened the 2014-15 season.
“In one months time, he has gone from that bad of shape to someone I am so, so high on,” Pitino said days before the season tipped-off. “I'm incredibly high on him because I think he's going to be a major factor for us this year.”
Onuaku was in the starting lineup when the Cardinals opened the season against Minnesota, but played just 8 minutes. Two games later, against Marshall, he recorded his first career double-double with 10 points and 11 rebounds in 24 minutes. He started 10 of the first 11 contests, averaging 3.7 points and 6.3 rebounds per game.
After missing the Long Beach State contest with a bum ankle, Onuaku worked his way back into the starting rotation in time for the Cardinals trip to Chapel Hill for the team's toughest in conference challenge in the early stages of the ACC season.
The developing freshman possibly played the best game of his young career against North Carolina on Saturday afternoon. Playing in front of a sold-out Dean Dome, Onuaku performed solid in the 72-71 loss to the Tarheels.
“He played really well,” Pitinio said afterwards. “He did a good job and our guards did a great job.”
Onuaku finished with a near double-double with 8 points and 8 rebounds in 27 minutes of action. He also blocked two shots and had a pair of steals.