After graduating in Spring 2016 with a sociology degree, former Cal Poly guard David Nwaba headed to Reno, Nevada to tryout for the NBA.
The Reno Bighorns of the NBA Development League were awarded his rights and he was given a chance to make it on the Sacramento Kings’ D-League affiliate. But, according to SB Nation, an acclaimed sports website, while he was en-route, Nwaba received a call from Los Angeles D-Fenders general manager Nick Mazella telling him they had acquired Nwaba’s rights in a trade.
Nwaba, a Los Angeles native, is now back home and making an impact for the Los Angeles D-Fenders, the minor league affiliate of the Los Angeles Lakers.
He currently averages 11.2 points, 6.2 rebounds, 1.3 steals and 1.2 blocks per game, making him what Cal Poly men’s basketball head coach Joe Callero thinks is one of the best defenders in the Development League.
“Defensively, he really puts up a stand against guys. He’s just showing that he belongs,” D-Fenders head coach Coby Karl said in an interview with SB Nation.
On Thursday, Nwaba faced off against his original D-League team, the Bighorns, and led the team in minutes played and tallied 15 points, eight rebounds and three steals.
Nwaba’s 6-foot-4 frame and 6-foot-11 wingspan combined with his athleticism makes him highlight reel-worthy on a nightly basis. Eric Rothaman, the D-Fenders’ play-by-play announcer, has awarded him with the nickname “Mr. Dunk” based on the emphatic dunks he’s slammed down game after game.
Transferring to Cal Poly after a brief stint at Hawaii Pacific University and Santa Monica Junior College, Nwaba steadily improved throughout his three years as a Mustang to be more than a long, acrobatic guard, according to Callero.
Despite a wrist injury that put him in a cast his junior year, Nwaba led the team his senior year.
“The injury really set him back; his shot was inconsistent,” Callero said. “But, he started getting back and feeling more comfortable his senior year.”
Nwaba led the Mustangs in scoring during the 2015-16 season and was also a 2016 All-Big West Conference Honorable Mention. He finished his final season with an average of 12.5 points, 6.3 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 1.3 steals per game.
At the end of his Cal Poly career, Nwaba ranked 15th in program history in rebounds with a total of 465 and was one of 23 players to score more than 1,000 career points.
No matter the size of the opponent, Callero always had Nwaba guard the best player on the opposing team.
“By the end of his senior year, I was so impressed and I thought he had a good chance to play pro ball in Europe,” Callero said.
With the abilities he has combined with a drive to succeed, Nwaba could have a shot in the NBA or other professional leagues worldwide.
“If he continues to improve in the next three years as much as he did in his three years at Cal Poly, he could become a pro,” Callero said.