BOZICH | Will Chinanu Onuaku return to U of L? Fran Fraschilla's - WDRB 41 Louisville News

BOZICH | Will Chinanu Onuaku return to U of L? Fran Fraschilla's take

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Louisville center Chinanu Onuaku will participate in the NBA Draft combine in Chicago. Louisville center Chinanu Onuaku will participate in the NBA Draft combine in Chicago.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – Nobody has done more preparation for the NBA Draft Combine in Chicago than Fran Fraschilla. He will work the event for ESPN when it begins Thursday.

Before the scrimmages, drills and interviews begin, Fraschilla invested dozens of hours watching video of all the players on the invitation list, including the six local guys -- Chinanu Onuaku of Louisville, Kentucky’s Jamal Murray, Skal Labissiere, Tyler Ulis and Marcus Lee and Troy Williams of Indiana.

Fraschilla agreed to talk to me about the prospects of all six players -- and what they need to show the 200-or-so NBA scouts and executives who will evaluate them this weekend in advance of the Draft.

Underclassmen who have declared for the draft have until May 25 to remove their names for consideration. The NBA Draft is June 23 at The Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y.

I’ll begin with Onauku, a player that Fraschilla believes will return to Louisville for his junior season.

If Onuaku plays next winter for Rick Pitino, he would be U of L's top returning scorer (9.9 points) and rebounder (8.5). At 6 feet 10 and 235 pounds, Onuaku has an NBA body.

Here is Fraschilla, unplugged:

"With Onuaku, he’s improved. I think teams like the fact that he's improved and that he's still very young for a sophomore (Onuaku won't be 20 until Nov. 1).

"What he is right now is an energy big man. He runs, he jumps, he plays hard. He's shown the ability to be a really good passer. He looks like he could be an effective mid-range jump shooter some day.

"Basically, what he's got to do, he's got to prove, at least in the drills or when they play, they want to see him run the floor. The league is about bigs running the floor now. Being good laterally with his quickness because of the defensive things that are asked of big men now out on the floor so much.

"If he shows an improved low-post game, that's even better. That's not his strength right now.

"My personal opinion is he's not going to stay (in the draft) unless somebody gives him what we call a promise (to draft him), I'd say in the top 25. That’s going to be problematic.

"I think this is a great place for him to test the areas that he has to improve on. Next year he is going to come back here as a junior and he still will not have turned 21.

"I saw the improvement that he made last summer playing the (USA Basketball) Under-19 team. I thought he made a nice step. Big men are at a premium. His energy, his athleticism and his ability to run end-to-end are things they are going to look for."

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