Chinanu Onuaku is Now Shooting Free Throws Underhanded

Photo: Tim Haag/
Photo: Tim Haag/

Chinanu Onuaku was 14-30 from the free throw line last season for 46.7%. Near the end of the season, head coach Rick Pitino said that Onuaku had been practicing free throws underhanded. It turns out that the underhanded method just may be a thing for Onuaku this coming season. He has even started to utilize the shot while he is in Colorado trying out for the USA U19 World Championship Team.

Toward the end of the season – prior to the NCAA Tournament – the Cardinals’ coach, Rick Pitino, showed Onauku a video of NBA hall of famer Rick Barry. Barry, who lives in Colorado Springs, made nearly 90 percent of his free throws in his professional career while shooting underhanded.

“He’s sacrificing the way it looks for the result,” U19 coach Sean Miller said of Onauku. “It says a lot about him.”

Though he began practicing the form before his freshman season ended, Onauku didn’t use the underhand style in a Louisville game. If he makes the USA roster, he’ll get a chance to unveil the form at the FIBA U19 World Championships on June 27 to July 5 in Heraklion (Crete), Greece.

While he doesn’t know what percentage he’s shooting underhanded, Onauku said it’s an improvement from how often he scored overhand.

Miller and Providence coach Ed Cooley, an assistant on the team, both said they’ve never coached a player who has used such a form, but that they support it.

“It’s a soft shot,” Miller said.

Well, if nothing else, this should be entertaining.

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