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Former Syracuse Center Arinze Onuaku Shines in NBA Summer League

The 28-year-old is drawing interest from multiple teams.

The Orlando session of the 2016 NBA Summer League wrapped up on Friday, and the Orlando Magic (White) took home the title after an 87-84 overtime victory over the Detroit Pistons in the championship game.

The win capped off an undefeated run for the Magic (White) — there was also a Magic (Blue) — and solidified former Syracuse big man Arinze Onuaku as one of the event’s stars. Against the Pistons, the 28-year-old NBA journeyman racked up 14 points and 12 rebounds, giving Onuaku his second double-double of the week.

Through 24.4 minutes per game, Onuaku averaged 14.8 points (on 62.5 percent shooting from the field), 9.8 boards, and 1.2 blocks for the 5-0 Magic (White). He was extremely consistent, dropping between 13 and 16 points in each game, and terrorized opponents on the offensive glass — he pulled down at least four of his team’s misses in three different games. Onuaku did struggle at the charity stripe, though, knocking down just 45.2 percent of his free throw attempts.

Onuaku’s performance was still outstanding, and it caught the eyes of “several teams,” according to Alex Kennedy of Basketball Insiders. Summer League stardom doesn’t always translate to NBA success, but at this point, the 6-foot-9, 255 pound big man probably just wants to get back on a professional roster.

After going undrafted in 2010, Onuaku has played 11 NBA games in his career: three with New Orleans and two with Cleveland in 2013-14, and six for the Timberwolves in 2014-15. Last year, he played professionally in Israel and the Philippines.

Onuaku wasn’t the only former Syracuse standout to appear in the Orlando session of the 2016 Summer League. Michael Gbinije played in only one game for the Pistons before spraining an ankle in practice. The injury kept him out of Detroit’s last four outings, but Silent G was solid in his limited action — he clanked four three-pointers and going scoreless in the first half, but bounced bounced back to finish with 10 points, seven rebounds, five dimes, two steals, and just one turnover.

Rakeem Christmas is fighting for a roster spot in a loaded Pacers frontcourt. The 24-year-old, who appeared in only one game as a rookie, averaged 7.2 points, 5.4 boards, 1.4 blocks, and 1.2 steals over five games. Indiana, whose center of the future is Myles Turner, added veteran Al Jefferson this offseason, so Christmas would be, at best, the team’s third option at the position in 2016-17.

SU draftees haven’t been very successful in recent years, but each member of this trio has a good chance at NBA roster spots this offseason.

The Fizz is owned, edited and operated by Damon Amendolara. D.A. is an ’01 Syracuse graduate from the Newhouse School with a degree in Broadcast Journalism.


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