Throughout the 2015 NBA Playoffs, we saw what can happen when a player can’t hit free throws. They get targeted. While college basketball hasn’t yet dealt with any kind of ‘Hack-a-whoever’ issue yet, it’s still a lead pipe lock that any player who struggles from the charity stripe will never, ever get a clean look close to the rim.
Enter Chinanu Onuaku.
Louisville’s sophomore center has had a successful start to his first offseason as a collegian, making it to the final 16 of USA Basketball’s U-19 team. He’ll find out this week if he made the cut and will be traveling to Greece with the team for the World Championships.
One of the things that the 6-foot-9 Onuaku has been focusing on this offseason is his free throw shooting. Onuaku, who averaged 3.0 points and 4.6 boards playing behind Montrezl Harrell last season, shot just 46.7 percent from the charity stripe a year ago. His plan to get better this offseason: learning to shoot granny-style.
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. […] While he doesn’t know what percentage he’s shooting underhanded, Onauku said it’s an improvement from how often he scored overhand.
I’m not sure anyone cares how Onuaku shoots his free throws as long as they’re going in.
Except for opposing fans. He’ll hear quite a bit from them.
Onuaku isn’t the first college player to try this. Canyon Berry, Rick’s son who plays for the College of Charleston, shoots his free throws underhanded as well.