It was the beginning of December 2019 and COVID 19 was still months away and everything was still normal in basketball arena´s around the globe. German Pro B team BBC Coburg entered basketball City Mainhatten in Frankfurt for a duel against the easyCredit BBL team Fraport Skyliners farm team called Juniors where only a few years ago current Washington Wizard Isaac Bonga would work countless hours perfecting his craft for the NBA. BBC Coburg had had their 5 game winning streak snapped the weekend before against Bavarian team Oberaching and arrived in Frankfurt eager to begin a new winning streak. Frankfurt had been struggling the last weeks and arrived into the game with a two game losing streak. Both teams were at eye level after 10 minutes, but in the next 20 minutes BBC Coburg would take control of the game and lead 51-35 at the break and by as much as 24 points in the third quarter. The Fraport Skyliners Juniors cut the Coburg lead down to 12 points. Frankfurt continued their comeback run and shaved the Coburg lead down to only 5 points, but that was as close as they would get as Michael Jordan entered. No sorry, it wasn´t Michael Jordan, but it was BBC Coburg´s 198cm forward Princeton Onwas who could have been Jordan, because he came in and played like that game changing player that the Chicago Bull was back in the day. Frankfurt was still in striking range trailing, but Princeton Onwas was a menace, the type of player you hate to play against, but would love to have on your team. He stole a bad pass from Canadian Jazz Bains under the Frankfurt basket and made the two handed dunk. A short time later he made a big three for the 88-79 Coburg advantage. Onwas then made one more beautiful play for the highlight reel. He had twice made the ESPN Top 10 list in college and in this game made a bullet pass to captain Chris Wolf for the easy lay in and the 95-81 lead as the game was already decided. “I pride myself on being versatile. They played trap on me well, but I had my head up and was able to find him. He did a good job catching it and making the basket”, stressed Princeton Onwas. Princeton Onwas finished the contest with 21 points, 8 rebounds, 6 assists and 3 steals. Having that defense first type mentality and natural style of a point guard for a forward shows the vast versatility of Princeton Onwas who recently completed his third professional season and first in Germany. He is a player that has the versatile game to continue to move up the basketball ladder.
Now COVID_19 has been the main topic for the world the last months. Onwas came home in March after playing for BBC Coburg. .At the moment he is back at home in Katy, Texas living with his parents. The last couple of months have been tough on the player as his dad is very vulnerable to getting the virus. Just like so many other players out there, he also never would have expected for the COVID-19 crisis to become as big and widespread as it has. “When I first heard about it, I thought it was a little thing that would blow over in about a month. Never did I think it would shut down everything, and cause so much fear”, stressed Princeton Onwas. Around this time under normal conditions he may have been on a vacation after possibly a nice end to his third season in the German Pro B playoffs, but instead he has been holed up in Texas and normal life has been difficult. “My day to day has been different from the past. I’m not able to go to the gym to work on my game. However I’m still able to run miles and do in home workouts. But obviously not the same as going to an actual court or weight room. But as time goes, things will begin to reopen”, hoped Princeton Onwas. He has had a lot of time to think about basketball and one thing that he has never experienced before concerns the fact that the future of basketball at first may be playing to empty arena´s to keep the social distancing alive and making sure that the COVID-19 virus is totally defeated before people can come together again. “I’ve never played a real game with 0 fans. But I think it’s okay for players to play with out fans in attendance. As long as every player passes the test”, added Princeton Onwas.
Before his third professional season abruptly ended due to COVID-19, the American who also owns the Nigerian citizenship was having one his best seasons as a professional as he also proved that he could ball down under. He has had a slow rise in his career and continues to have to pay his dues despite having a very solid last season at San Jose State. He began his basketball career at Seven Lakes High School and right off the bat, he wasn´t able to compete in the NCAA, but had to begin at the bottom at Navarro College (JUCO). But instead of moping around, he took on the challenge from the start and was concentrated on making the next step. “Juco was life changing for me as a young man. Not only for basketball, but academically as well. I learned how to play the game through adversity. Juco and NCAA are two different animals”, warned Princeton Onwas. He proved that the JUCO was just one stop before making the next step at a higher level at the University of Utah (NCAA) playing 31 games averaging 4.8ppg, 2.6rpg. He finally had reached the highest level with the NCAA, but there absolutely nothing was given to him, but instead he was faced with an abundance of talent especially at his position with guys like Jordan Loveridge, Kenneth Ogbe and Dakari Tucker. “All of those players are good at what they do. When it comes to minutes, I think they just had the coaches trust more and they had been in the system longer so that gave them the edge. I began to start half way during the year”, commented Princeton Onwas. Having these very talented players along his side helped his game grow and he will never forget German Kenneth Ogbe. He knows that he still has a long way to go to reach the level where he is at as he has been with Euroleague team Alba Berlin. “Kenneth was a young kid when we met, with the potential to become a star. Seeing him play at the top level gives me hope that I could play there as well. If his talent can take him there, with no doubt I believe I can play in the top leagues”, warned Princeton Onwas.
It isn´t always a surprise reading the college bio´s of players, because not every player will remain at one school for 4 years. Onwas made one more change and joined a third school with San Jose State. He was there for 2 seasons, but could only play his last season due to the transfer season rules. He learned so much in these 2 years and made a huge step especially mentally as he knew where his path would go after school. “The biggest growth I had while at Sjsu was my patience to the game. I knew sitting out would be tough but was still practicing to get better. I knew from there I would play professionally”, warned Princeton Onwas. He had a very solid senior year playing 31 games averaging 10.5ppg, 3.1rpg, 2.4apg, FGP: 53.9%, 3PT: 20.6%, FT: 61.1%. Not being satisfied with your game is always a super sign for a player in terms of having the right attitude and always wanting to get better and that is exactly how he felt after his senior year, but overall it was an excellent experience for him in so many ways. “I didn’t have the senior year I wanted statistically but it was one of the best times I had in my life. We were a super young team with little experience, playing in a good conference. So we struggled to get wins. My game grew with my leadership”, expressed Princeton Onwas. He scored in double figures in 16 games as a senior including a 23 point game against San Diego State and a 21 point effort against Montana State.. He played his best basketball against Colorado State where he scored in double figures in 3 games including 24 points and 20 points, but he left each game as the loser and none more difficult than the 85-84 contest. “It’s not easy losing to a team you felt like you could’ve beaten. But that comes with the game. Colorado State at the time had players who played with each other already for a couple seasons and was very well coached, unlike us who was working on finding our identity with such a young group”, remembers Princeton Onwas. He had the pleasure of being teammates with future NBA player Brandon Clarke who put up the type of states at San Jose State that Princeton Onwas has produced in Australia and Germany and remembers his time with him very well especially the one on one battles where like most players took himself over the NBA rookie who averaged 12,0ppg with the Memphis Grizzlies this season. “Being teammates with Brandon was awesome. He was a talented kid that played his butt off, even better guy off the court. His freshman year he was such a raw player with so much potential. I knew one day he would have a shot at playing in the top leagues because of his size and athleticism. Once he transferred to Gonzaga, I knew it was done deal. He’s ceiling is high and will be around the league for many years. Concerning who won a one one it was me all day. And still would”, smiled Princeton Onwas. Not only the hard work of Onwas paid off for him transforming his game from the NCAA to the professional level, but also head coach Dave Wojcik was instrumental in the American being on a good way of becoming that more versatile player. “Coach Woj was very amplified. He would try and get you out of your comfort zone and push your buttons. I’ve learned how to handle criticism at a high level. I wouldn’t say he groomed me. But he definitely helped me step outside my comfort zone and allowed me to play the point guard positions for about half the season. I’ve learned that I play my best at the point”, warned Princeton Onwas.
Onwas who lists ex UCLA(NCAA) great and ex Memphis Grizzle Jordan Adams as the toughest player he has battled against began his professional basketball career down under with e Brisbane Capitals (Australia-QBL) playing 18 games averaging 18.4ppg, 5.6rpg, 2.7apg, 1.9spg, 1.1bpg, FGP: 58.4%, 3PT: 32.6%, FT: 65.5%. In the NBA often wake up calls are when rookies have to carry the vets baggage, but in Australia his wake up call was a bit different. “My wake up call was when the vets made the rookies wear baby style backpacks to every game and practices. Every time I saw a Kangaroo I would remember I was on the other side of the earth”, added Princeton Onwas. In his 18 games of action, he scored in double figures in 13 games and scored more than 20 points 9 times. He had some huge games like his 36 points against rival Brisbane S, or his 31 points against Ipswich F, but no game was more massive for him than his 39 point explosion in the 112-89 victory against Suncoast PC. “I can just remember that I was fearless. I felt comfortable, unstoppable and that there was nothing anyone could do to stop me”, warned Princeton Onwas.
He lists .Aaron Anderson (Brisbane). Trey Pinkney (high school). Ollie (Brisbane). Chris Wolf (BBC). Shore Andenken (BBC) as his best teammates of all-time remained home fo his second professional season and gathered some experience in the G-League with the Westchester Knicks, but played only 3 games averaging 1,7ppg and 1,7rpg. He saw first hand just how brutal the NBA is where often a players feelings are at the bottom of the totem pole. “It was a great experience. I knew the NBA was a business before stepping in so I just tried to bring my all every day. I made it through training camp and made the final roster cuts. However, there were too many players on the roster when the Knicks rookies started playing alongside as well”, remembers Princeton Onwas. It was only a brief time with Westchester, but he witnessed the tough times that ex Michigan(NCAA) standout Trey Burke was having as he had to pay some additional dues in the G-League. “The league was dope. I played with and against some very talented players. Trey Burke is extremely good, and I’m glad to have been able to work with him. If I get another shot at playing, I’m confident that’ll I’ll finish the season”, stressed Princeton Onwas. After his brief G-League stay, he didn´t return home, but went back to an old stomping ground to Australia and played with the South West Metro Pirates (Australia-QBL) playing 17 games averaging 17.5ppg, 9.1rpg, 3.4apg, 1.8spg, FGP: 58.0%, 3PT: 19.7%, FT: 65.6%. He had another fantastic season in Australia scoring in double figures in 16 games and registered 8 double doubles. He had an unforgettable game against Toowoomba M exploding for 37 points and hauled down 13 boards in the 84-74 victory. This season gave him added self confidence for his next challenge in Germany.
Onwas who has Lebron, Jordan, Shaq, Kobe on his personal NBA Mount Rushmore signed with German third division team BBC Coburg. The organization finished in 5th place with a 11-10 record. The season had 3 parts. The beginning had a 4 game losing streak and the middle saw them winning 10 of 11 games and the end lost 5 of the last 6 games, but still made the playoffs. It is definitely a season he won´t forget. “The season was a roller coaster ride, up and down. In the beginning we were building chemistry, because we never played with each other and didn’t have much experience on the court together. As time went on we built some momentum and took off. Felt at a point, no one could beat us. Then we got injured. Took us a couple steps back mid season, but still holding on. Later in the season we just got injured some more, which basically made it difficult to win games down the stretch. From the cards that were dealt, I think we had a solid season. And the playoffs would’ve been the icing on the cake”, remembers Princeton Onwas. Consistency is always a huge part of if a club will be successful and that is especially the case on the defensive end where the club just couldn´t get a healthy rhythm going. “Defense was our biggest strength and also our weakness. We spent the majority of practice working on offense, therefore we lacked some fundamentals defensively. However, I play defense off experience, and motivated my team to take my lead during games. So we had some extremely good defensive games and some games lost due to our defense. Yes of course, losing Shore was huge. Not only was he a good defender, he was a leader and friend on and off court. His loss was felt”, warned Princeton Onwas. The “what if” is that scary question so many players have asked themselves from leagues all over the world in terms of where the team´s journey would have gone had COVID-19 not been born. BBC Coburg might have made a playoff run, but nobody will ever know. “I was really upset. We had so much more in the tank. I’m confident to say that I was going to personally take the team to the second round by will. Nothing was going to stop us and me”, stressed Princeton Onwas.
Onwas won´t only remember his personal strong season, but also his teammates. One guy who could have been that missing link in the playoffs was French player Keite Tidjane who like Onwas had gathered experience in the G-League. He had come for the injured Shore Adeneken and had put up great numbers in his brief time there. “All of my teammates were warriors and I enjoyed every second around them. TJ is a freak! 6’9 guard/forward monster. The guy is multi-talented and loves to win. He’s best asset is his character off the court, great friend”, said Prince Onwas. He also built up special relationships with the German core players like Chris Wolf and Constantin Ebert who are established vets in Germany. Those two guys definitely were huge in Onwas being able to have the season that he had. He also won´t forget young 18 year old German Nico Wenzl who already played in the easyCredit BBL with medi Bayreuth. “Those two were our captains. Their roles played a huge part of our team success. They gave us before game speeches and competed in every practice to make sure we got better that day. I enjoyed Chris’s ability to shoot the ball and Constantin´s ability to create for himself and others. Nico is a talented player for his age. Still has much to learn but is on the right track to stardom”, commented Princeton Onwas.
Onwas came to Germany and had to prove himself again something that has been the story of his life, but he disappointed no one as he played 19 games averaging 17.2ppg, 7.2rpg, 3.7apg, 2.2spg, FGP: 56.4%, 3PT: 25.5%, FT: 64.4%. He scooped up Eurobasket.com All-German 2.Bundesliga Pro B Newcomer of the Year -20, Eurobasket.com All-German 2.Bundesliga Pro B 1st Team -20, Eurobasket.com German 2.Bundesliga Pro B All-Imports Team -20, and Eurobasket.com German 2.Bundesliga Pro B All-Defensive Team -20. Those are incredible numbers for a rookie in Germany, but he wasn´t completely satisfied by his accomplishments. “I think I had a solid season, and am honored to have received many awards. However, I have more in the tank. I was about 85% myself. I haven’t displayed my full arsenal yet”, warned Princeton Onwas. He didn´t start that strong scoring in double figures in only 2 of his first 5 games, but finished strong scoring in double figures in 12 of his last 14 games. Obviously his scoring was mostly on display achieving a 31 point explosion against Wurzburg, 30 points against Giessen and 26 point games against Speyer and the Lowen. But what fans saw at a consistent rate was his versatile game at both ends of the floor. One could see how much pride he took on the defensive end and on offense his all around game and his exceptional passing skills and court vision as he had 4 assists or more in 9 games. “I have a defense first type mentality. Games are won on the defensive end, so I put most of my energy and effort while playing D. The more success we have on defense, the higher chance we win the game. My natural style of play is at the point guard position . A bigger sized point guard, with multiple talents. I can take you off the dribble, post you up, shoot the open shot, or find my teammates for easy points”, stressed Princeton Onwas. His three pointer is also a part of his versatile game, but it still is a work in progress as it isn´t so consistent. He knows exactly what it will take for him to have that become more of a weapon in his arsenal. “My three game is coming along. I’ve had seasons where I shot above 30%. However, I’m more successful as a catch and shoot type player. This season I was making most of the plays to get my guys open shots, unfortunately I didn’t receive to many open shots myself, mostly rushed or end of shot clock type shots. Staying longer hours getting game shots will improve my consistency”, warned Princeton Onwas.
So what is the next step for Princeton Onwas who compares his versatile game to Kawhi Leonard? He knows that the whole COVID-19 has turned the business side of basketball upside down and doesn´t have the same feelings as before about how his future will go, but just like in his career where he started at the bottom, he can´t give up. “I am slightly worried, because this is how people put food on the table. If the economy is down that means players won’t be given what their worth. But regardless the pay, I’m going to give my all”, warned Princeton Onwas. He would love to play a fourth professional season, but knows that the organization has to be the perfect fit. A club that will invest in him just as much as he will invest in them. He is also confident that the extra time training and less game experience will still be an advantage than a disadvantage. “If you truly love the game you are already training and getting better”, stressed Princeton Onwas. Even if times have been tough for everyone during COVID-19, he knows that he has gotten something beneficial out of this hard experience. Onwas is a guy that has battled numerous adversary in his career, but always came out tougher. He has grown not only as a player over the years, but also as a man especially during COVID-19. He understands now that he will think twice the next time before getting angry to quickly about something or saying something he probably shouldn´t have and might regret later. Sometimes things happen in life where one can´t go back and change it. You are confronted with reality so rapidly. One has to know where the boundries are and know that one should always be thankful for what you have every single day. “I’ve learned that anything at anytime can be taken away from you. Cherish the little things and live life to its fullest”, warned Princeton Onwas.