- Paul Biancardi, Basketball Recruiting
ESPN 100 big man Chinanu Onuaku (Upper Marlboro ,Md./Riverdale Baptist) kept everyone guessing until the end, but eventually he picked national champion Louisville over Georgetown, and Miami. Onuaku, younger brother of New Orleans Pelicans big man Arinze Onuaku, is a promising post player.
Why he committed: The chance to play right away and to play for hall of fame coach Rick Pitino. The development of former Cardinal Gorgui Dieng made a big impression on Onuaku as he was looking for a program and coach that could help him grow and reach his potential.
What he brings: A physically strong and long true center who understands his role. Quietly he improved this summer on the national circuit. His shot-blocking, rebounding and ability to screen and free up teammates are still the strength of his game. When he rebounds the ball it’s with two hands on the defensive glass, and he is well schooled in throwing the outlet pass to start the break. At this stage of his career his defense is ahead of his offense. His physical presence in the paint is impressive. The one aspect of his game that’s under the radar is that he is a good passing big man.
How he fits: With Stephan Van Treese graduating, and Chane Behanan possibly looking into the NBA draft there is a void in the front court for the Cardinals. Onuaku will be setting many ball screens for the Cardinals at different angles where he could roll to the rim or pop out to an open space. He also will be setting pin-down screens and slipping to the rim as he is able to produce in the painted area comfortably. From a defensive standpoint when the Cards press he can be on the back line waiting to block shots as it gives his teammates a chance to keep the pressure on. Bottom line Onuaku gives them what they don’t have now but what they did have with Dieng -- a player to patrol the paint and protect the basket.
Reminds me of: Dieng, who originally hails from Senegal. Coming into Louisville both were raw on the offensive end but shot blocking and rebounding were there. Onuaku, who is Nigerian, is bigger in terms of width as his body is college ready at the same stage of his career. Dieng turned out to be a first-round pick and one of the best shot-blockers to play at Louisville.
How the class is shaping up: Three ESPN top 100 prospects are on their way to Louisville, and they are bring different qualities to the program. Shaqquan Aaron has an advanced skill set and brings a super long athletic wing frame. Jaylen Johnson is oozing with potential as a hybrid forward. The future roster is strong on the perimeter for years to come, however there is a need for a high-level point guard to replace first-year player Chris Jones. Junior college G Sam Cassell Jr could fill that void as the Cards are a finalist for him. Louisville is also a finalist for PF Trey Lyles, the No. 7 overall prospect, as it will come down to the Cards and Kentucky for this outstanding forward.