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Louisville basketball standout Nwora working out in gym, preparing for upcoming NBA Draft

By Kenny Klein
University of Louisville

While many have been stuck at home during the COVID-19 pandemic, University of Louisville forward Jordan Nwora has been using his time working out in the gym to prepare for the 2020 NBA Draft.

“I work on a bunch offensively, scoring and stuff like that,” said Nwora, a 6-foot-8 forward from Buffalo, N.Y. “The two things I’m working on a lot recently are my ball-handling and improving that a lot, and just getting quicker through a lot of agility drills that’ll help me on the defensive end. The big thing is just to continue to take steps defensively and then just improve on my ball-handling. I don’t think a lot of people are worried about how I score the ball and how I shoot.

“I’ve been going really hard, spending a lot of time in the gym. It’s been time for me to improve. I think I’ve gotten better and my body’s getting better.”

Jordan Nwora

During the 2019-20 season, Nwora was the only player to collectively rank among the Atlantic Coast Conference’s top 10 in scoring (18.0 points per game, 2nd in the ACC), rebounding (7.7, 8th), free-throw percentage (.813, 4th), field-goal percentage (.440, 8th) and 3-pointers made per game (2.5, 2nd).

Nwora has had regular access to a gym during the pandemic when many facilities have been shut down. In addition, his father Alex is the head coach at Erie Community College in Buffalo, N.Y., and is there to provide guidance and support.

“I’m really fortunate to be able to train every day,” said Nwora. “It’s really good having him, be able to help me out now through this process. I’m just lucky to be able to work out right now.”

Nwora has been among the finest shooters in the nation. His 76 3-point goals in 2019-20 were the 11th-most in a single season at Louisville, one less than his sophomore year total of 77, which ranks 10th. He finished his career tied for 31st in career scoring with 1,294 points, seventh in career 3-point percentage (.394) and 11th in career 3-pointers (178). He scored 20 or more points in 14 games, including a career-high 37 points at Boston College on Jan. 29 when he buried seven treys.

Nwora went through the NBA Draft evaluation process in 2019 before deciding to return to UofL for his junior year, so he understands the process despite limitations with the pandemic.

“I just feel like overall, I’m a lot better of a position going into it this year,” said Nwora. “Taking all the feedback I got last year, improving my game and our team was really good. It just really just set me up to be in a lot better position this year and to know what to expect. Once things get back to being a little more normal, I’m sure that being able to go through that process will definitely help me this year, depending on how normal they can get things to be.”

“I’ve had a bunch of interviews,” said Nwora, who has spoken with over 20 NBA teams. “It’s just a Zoom call. They get a bunch of people from their organization and we’ll have a Zoom call for about 45 minutes to an hour. It’s just like they would do if I was at the combine last year, except just on Zoom.”

A total of 75 former Louisville players have been selected in the NBA Draft, including eight in the last six years. UofL is eighth in the nation with 25 first-round draft picks and Louisville is one of just 10 schools in the nation with 70+ draft picks. A total of 17 former UofL players have played in the NBA over the last seven years.

Jordan Nwora averaged 18.0 points per game last season and helped Louisville post a 24-7 record. (UofL photo)

“It’s crazy not knowing when anything (with the draft) is happening,” said Nwora. “We’re still waiting to hear what’s going to happen with the NBA season and hopefully we can find out sooner rather than later. All I can do right now just stay in the gym, stay in shape and keep getting better. Hopefully things will be figured out soon.”

The Cardinals’ last NBA Draft selection was Ray Spalding, who was selected by the Philadelphia 76ers in the second round of the 2018 NBA Draft with the 56th pick overall. Donovan Mitchell was UofL’s most recent first-round selection as the 13th overall pick in the 2017 NBA Draft.

Nwora feels he would fit well with whatever team selects him in the draft.

“I feel like I fit with almost any team that would want to pick me up just because of how I play,” said Nwora. “I feel like I’ll be able to fit a need in terms of my shooting I’ll be able to space a floor, spread the floor out for any team that picks me up. That’s something that the NBA is looking for now. Shooting is a premium in the league right now so you know I think that any team anywhere I go, able to kind of fit and help. I know what I’m gonna need to do coming in and I’m gonna know my role.”

Nwora takes pride in his accomplishments during the 2019-20 season with the Cardinals.

“I think what I’m most proud of are two things,” said Nwora. “Our team did really well in our second year under Coach Mack and was able to be in the top 10 for most of the season. And another thing I’m proud of is being an All-American, both on the floor and academically. Those are probably the things I’m most proud of.”

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Nwora became the Cardinals’ 21st All-America selection and first since Russ Smith was a consensus first team All-America choice in 2014. He was named to All-America third teams by The Associated Press, NABC, The Sporting News, US Basketball Writers Association, USA Today, Sports Illustrated and The Athletic. He is just the 12th consensus first, second or third team All-America selection for the Cardinals (10 individuals honored on 12 occasions).

Nwora entered the 2020 NBA Draft following the season.

Nwora was named to the 2020 CoSIDA Academic All-America basketball second team and earned his third straight All-ACC Academic men’s basketball team honor. A first-team All-ACC selection who was the second-leading vote-getter and finished second in the conference player of the year voting, he is only the Cardinals’ second All-ACC first team selection in Louisville’s six years in the ACC.

When the 2019-20 season ended prematurely with no postseason due to health concerns over the pandemic, Nwora led a Louisville team that was ranked No. 8 in the NET with the nation’s 18th-toughest schedule. The Cardinals (24-7, 15-5 ACC) finished the season with their best overall record through 31 games for a Louisville team in six years and marked the most conference victories for the Cardinals in their six years in the ACC.

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