SMC Alumni David Nwaba Scores a two-year deal with the Los Angeles Lakers
The crowd is roaring. A basket is needed immediately. Eye contact is made and the lob is thrown. An almost impossible reach but just enough to get the ball and dunk it over last year's champions - the Cleveland Cavaliers. The crowd goes wild. David Nwaba’s first highlight play in the NBA. Nwaba has signed a two-year deal with the Los Angeles Lakers.
This all began when he signed a ten-day contract with the struggling Los Angeles Lakers on Feb 28, 2017. On a normal Monday morning, a call from coach Coby Karl of the LA D-Fenders had brought Nwaba to their practice facility. Expecting to be asked to help with a basketball clinic, he walked into the room surprised when the Lakers executives were waiting there for him. His professional journey had just begun but not without hard work and perseverance.
Coming out of high school he had averaged 22.3 points, 11.5 rebounds, and 2.2 assists, while also averaging a pair of steals and blocks. He decided to move to Hawaii, a familiar childhood place and play for Hawaii-Pacific. After a year of playing Nwaba decided he was better than the competition and would take his talent back to Los Angeles.
Nwaba decided to continue his basketball career at Santa Monica College.
SMC was a new challenge for Nwaba because the competition was stronger than before. Nwaba would rise to the challenge as he put up big numbers by averaging 20.5 points, 8.8 rebounds, and 2.5 assists.
Nwaba would be the top scorer for SMC leading them to a 15-9 season while winning Western State South basketball MVP, first team all-conference, and first team all-state.
“SMC and the coaching staff helped build confidence in my game and there were a lot of things I learned from a mental standpoint,” Nwaba said.
After his year playing with the Corsairs, Nwaba had signed a letter of intent to play for Cal Poly San Luis Obispo and received a full athletic scholarship.
Nwaba would spend two years at San Luis Obispo averaging 12.5 points, 6.3 rebounds, and 3.5 assists.
Nwaba would not be drafted in 2016 which left him with few choices.
“Initially, I was trying to go overseas," Nwaba said. "I attended several showcases in Las Vegas and in Los Angeles where an LA Defender coach noticed me and invited me to a closed door try out for the Defenders.”
This is the opportunity that Nwaba needed and it had finally paid off. Known for his defense, Nwaba was still able to drop 14.1 points a game, grab 6.9 rebounds, and dish out 1.1 assists.
What started as a promising season for the Lakers would quickly become a realization that they needed to develop their young core. They would trade veteran guard Louis Williams, who was their leading scorer, and Marcelo Huertas to create a roster spot. The Lakers seemed to be starting over and what they needed was a defensive presence. The rest was history when Nwaba signed his first ten-day contract.
“It’s an amazing feeling, I have a lot to bring to the table and will showcase that in the ten days I have with the team,” Nwaba said.
Nwaba would not be an offensive threat in his first ten days but would provide a much needed defensive presence. It was visible that the Lakers were much more efficient on both ends of the court while Nwaba was on it. Nwaba would earn high praise from Lakers Head Coach Luke Walton and his teammates on a nightly basis. Walton would go on to say that the whole coaching staff would be very impressed by him.
Nwaba accepted another ten-day contract, giving him one last opportunity to get signed by the team for the rest of the season.
Nwaba’s second ten-day contract was a result of his high-energy defense and a few highlight plays against one of the top teams in the league, the Cleveland Cavaliers. He also started twice for the Lakers which was a huge accomplishment for him. Things were looking good for Nwaba as fans seemed to embrace him, but more importantly, upper management was impressed.
“Bringing tons of energy to the court whether it is off the bench or as a starter and giving my full effort is what I do,” Nwaba said. “Teammates feed off of that energy and it makes us all play better.”
Throughout his 20 games, he averaged about 14.4 minutes per game adding 3.6 points, 2.0 rebounds, and 0.3 assists.
Finally, the day had come when Nwaba would find out if he was going to be signed by the Lakers. His contract was over and his choices were to continue on with the Lakers or go back to the D-League and try again. On Tuesday, March 21, Nwaba was officially signed to a two-year contract with a team option on the second year. His dream had finally come true.
Now that Nwaba is part of the rotation he hopes to return the Lakers to the winning days he witnessed growing up. As Nwaba reflects back on his basketball career he remembers the impact his coaches had on him.
David Nwaba is hopeful that he will prove himself to the Los Angeles Lakers in the upcoming year.