CRAWFORD | Onuaku talks NBA decision, worries about more Louisville sanctions
Louisville center Chinanu Onuaku talked with WDRB about what will go into his decision on whether to stay in the NBA Draft or return to Louisville for another season.
CHICAGO (WDRB) -- Chinanu Onuaku came to the NBA's pre-draft combine knowing two things -- he had some work to do to show scouts that he belongs in the first round of the draft, and he'll need some feedback to decide whether to sign with an agent or sign on for one more season at the University of Louisville.
He said on Thursday that he doesn't expect to have the information he needs to make a decision until well after the combine. But he did talk a little about the process he'll use to make that call.
"It's how I feel," Onuaku said. "If I feel like I'm ready and I'm hearing what I need to hear from the teams, I'll make a decision. I feel like it's gone well so far. . . . I haven't really thought about what I need to hear, but I know what I want to hear. . . . I don't really feel like it's a tough call. If I feel like I can play in the NBA and somebody wants me, I'm going to go. If I feel like I need one more year, I'm going to stay."
In a scrimmage Wednesday, Onuaku does what he does -- 11 points, 7 rebounds, 4 of 6 from the field, 3 of 5 from the line, two blocks, two assists, in 20 minutes.
Onuaku has talked to nine teams so far in Chicago, including Golden State, Cleveland, Los Angeles Clippers, Portland, Boston, San Antonio and Dallas. After the combine, he expects to work out for Toronto, Boston, Atlanta and perhaps Indiana.
He admitted, when teams show interest, he takes a look at that team's personnel and tries to see if he can imagine a place for himself. When Boston interviewed him, for instance, he acknowledged that "they have a couple of big men under contract but nobody who really does the kinds of things I do."
Onuaku has not been a projected first-rounder in the mock drafts, though he said, "I don't look at the mock drafts. Those people don't matter. . . . All that matters is what the teams think."
If he doesn't hear what he needs to hear from the teams at the combine, Onuaku could still return to Louisville and be one of the featured big men in college basketball next season. But he admitted, he worries about further sanctions from the NCAA as it investigates allegations from a former Louisville escort that she provided strippers and escorts to Cardinal players and recruits.
"I feel like there's more coming. I'm not sure if there is, but I feel like there's more coming. Because the NCAA ain't banned us, it was the school. They're probably going to do something to us, I just don't know what it is."
Asked if that weighed onto his decision, he said, "Yeah. I thought about that a lot. It edged into my mind. I'm talking to my people about it. They just want me to do what's best for me and what I think is best."
Onuaku said he thinks the Cardinals could have a championship contender if he returns. "We were that kind of team last year," he said, "and we only lost two guys."
He said he doesn't really have a checklist for what he has to hear in order to make a call. But he said, "If I do well here and I get good feedback," it could be all the incentive he needs.
He still has a decision to make. But the input he needs shouldn't be too far away.
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