After plugging along in the NBA D-League for the last few years, former Syracuse Orange basketball star Arinze Onuaku might finally have caught his big break with an NBA team. Onuaku was signed by the Minnesota Timberwolves and made his season debut against the Sacramento Kings last night, playing nearly 16 minutes and going 3-for-3 from the field to finish with six points and five rebounds.
Onuaku, who graduated from Syracuse in 2010 after suffering an ill-timed injury that kept him out of the NCAA Tournament – an injury that many Orange fans believe is the only thing that kept that year’s team from winning a national championship – has been tearing up the D-League all year. Through 41 games with the Canton Charge, Onuaku averaged 17.5 points and 12.2 rebounds and was a D-League All-Star.
The 6-foot-10 Onuaku, whose brother, freshman center Chinanu, just helped Louisville reach the Elite Eight, had only played five games at the NBA level prior to last night. Three of those came with the New Orleans Pelicans and two came with the Cleveland Cavaliers, all last year.
Arinze’s roster spot is good through the remainder of the year, with the Timberwolves having five games left on the schedule and a record of 16-61. Basically, Arinze’s got the chance to turn this into a five game tryout to either land a permanent spot with Minnesota, or catch the eye of another club once they notice how productive and efficient he can be as an NBA backup.