PORTSMOUTH — Standout men’s basketball big man and Shawnee State University graduate E.J. Onu has signed an Exhibit 10 contract with the NBA’s Dallas Mavericks, according to Jeremy Woo of Sports Illustrated.
That’s because Onu, a 6-11 graduate of SSU’s exercise science program and a member of the 2021 NAIA National Championship-winning men’s basketball program, went undrafted during Thursday night’s 60-selection NBA Draft.
On Onu’s Twitter account early on Friday morning, he simply said with the Mavericks’ account tagged in: “Let’s work!!!”
An Exhibit 10 contract, according to the NBA’s latest Collective Bargaining Agreement, is a one-year deal worth the minimum salary.
Onu is guaranteed the training camp invitation to Dallas as a result of the signing.
In all, Onu had worked out for 13 franchises, according to Beyond Athlete Management —as he tried to become the first player from the NAIA ranks to be drafted since Gaylon Nickerson was drafted with the 34th overall pick by the Atlanta Hawks in 1994.
Onu also would have been the first player with any basketball ties to Scioto County to be drafted by an NBA franchise since 1992, when Brett Roberts — a South Webster native and who later played at Morehead State — was drafted with the 54th and final pick of that year’s draft by the Sacramento Kings.
The franchises that Onu has worked out for in alphabetical order:
New Orleans Pelicans
Oklahoma City Thunder
Along with those workouts in individual team settings, Onu also worked out in front of scouts from various franchises at the NBA G-League Elite Camp and the Beyond Athlete Management Pro Day.
Further notes on Exhibit 10 contracts include the following:
A team can’t carry more than six Exhibit 10 contracts at a time.
An Exhibit 10 contract can only be converted to a two-way deal before the regular season begins.
An Exhibit 10 contract that gets converted to a two-way deal can later be converted into a standard NBA contract.
An Exhibit 10 bonus earned by a player which ends up in the G League or on a two-way contract isn’t counted toward the NBA team’s total salary.
Onu led the NAIA in blocks per game and total blocks last season — unsurprisingly — and ultimately earned NAIA All-American honors twice, while winning the Mid-South Conference Defensive Player of the Year award three times.
In 2020-21, Onu was a first-team all-MSC honoree and won the conference’s Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year honors.
Onu ultimately earned first-team NAIA All-American honors, and was a central figure in Shawnee State’s run to the 2021 NAIA National Championship.
On Thursday, just hours prior to the draft, the final mock draft by NBADraft.net projected Onu to be selected by the Charlotte Hornets with the 57th overall pick.
However, the Hornets passed on Onu — despite them owning both the 56th AND 57th selections.
The recent graduate — who played all four of his seasons at SSU — will enter uncharted waters as a result of earning this training camp invitation.
Onu will first participate in the upcoming NBA Summer League with Dallas in Las Vegas, where the 6-11 (240 pounds) big will play at the Cox Pavilion and the Thomas and Mack Center on the University of Nevada-Las Vegas (UNLV) campus.
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