June 1, 2010

L.A. University High’s Nwaba Ready for Spotlight

Kevin McCarthy

Who is David Nwaba? A soccer player maybe? S-t-r-i-k-e one. A mixed martial arts star? S-t-r-i-k-e two. How about Floyd Mayweather’s next punching bag? S-t-r-i-k-e three. Don’t feel badly if you remain baffled and please forgive the use of the baseball terminology but Nwaba is one of the top candidates for breaking out this summer on the southern California basketball scene

The 6-foot-4 senior-to-be leads the Los Angeles University High (UNI) Wildcats basketball team on the court, one unfortunately positioned in the same league as perennial national powerhouses Westchester and Fairfax.

University, coached by Steve Ackerman, went 19-15 overall this recently concluded season, 6-6 in league play. The Wildcats also have some history to be proud of in that UNI High has played in the three consecutive CIF- Los Angeles City Section Division II City Championship games, won the Division II City Championship in 2008 and were the runners-up in 2009 as well as 2010. The Wildcats also received automatic bids to the Division II California State Playoffs in 2009 and 2010 after advancing to the section championship game.

photo of David Nwaba
(photo by Dave Keefer)
David Nwaba

In 2009-2010, Nwaba averaged a double-double consisting of 20.7 points and 10.3 rebounds, plus four block shots a game. His production earned him his second straight All-City team inclusion alongside such well known names as Bryce Jones, DeAndre Daniels, Jordin Mayes, Jordan Weathers and others.

Ackerman grew up in west Los Angeles. UH is his alma mater and he has sat in the hot seat for five seasons after assisting there for 11. Ackerman labels Nwaba as an under-the-radar prospect. "David is freakishly athletic and very explosive off the jump," says Ackerman, adding, "he also has a good mid-range shot."

Continuing on, Ackerman explained, "He played the 4 for us and battled against much larger opponents." Two seasons ago, Nwaba actually matched up with Renardo Sidney when Fairfax and University met and more than held his own despite the enormous size and bulk differences. It was a lot of the same this go-around.

Ackerman see bigger things in the future for Nwaba: "Next season, he’ll be a candidate for Los Angeles City Player of the Year."

When Nwaba graduates in June 2011, he will have been the most successful -- in terms of total team victories and times playing for the city championship -- University High School basketball player in school history, This season, Nwaba led his squad to its first win over Fairfax since 1989, which curiously was Ackerman’s senior season at UNI.

Nwaba also owns a treasured personal moment, posterizing Dwayne Polee in a game against Westchester in the 2008-2009 season.

One primary reason for Nwaba’s lack of college recruiting notice is because he hasn’t played club team basketball during the spring and summer. That is, until now. He is currently a member of Team Ariza and, according to Ackerman, "David is playing on the wing there and he’ll be doing the same for us next season. This will help because he will be a combo 2 and 3 in college."

Nwaba sports a 3.0 grade point average, as he and Ackerman have already had ‘the talk’ about having no academic lapses from here on out.

But even if you can seemingly leap tall buildings in a single bound, there is always some form of kryptonite to conquer. "We want to bring up David’s level of competitiveness and further his skill development," Ackerman said.

Consider this but the lead in what are sure to be a flurry of upcoming Nwaba features.