Chinanu Onuaku
ESPN Screenshot

Houston Rockets rookie center Chinanu Onuaku had a lot to be nervous about when he made his debut Monday. With an injury to starting center Clint Cappella, Onuaku had recently been called up from the Rio Grande Valley Vipers of the D-League.

With the game against the Phoenix Suns well in hand, Onuaku was called onto the court with around eight minutes to go in the fourth quarter. The game was playing out nicely for Onuaku until 2:46 left to play. That's when Onuaku was fouled.

"I was nervous as hell," Onuaku told ESPN.

That's because Onuaku shoots his free throws underhanded—a granny shot made famous by Hall of Famer Rick Barry.

"I'm just happy that I made them," Onuaku added.

ABC News notes that Onuaku made the switch after his freshman season at the University of Louisville. His foul shooting improved from 46.7 percent as a freshman to 58.9 percent as a sophomore.

Advertisement

Veteran forward Corey Brewer told ABC News that he'd never seen someone shoot an underhand shot in a game.

"In my entire career, never in my life," he said. "He was 2-for-2. Whatever works; if it works for him, keep doing it. It's different, but hey, why not do it?"

But glory for Onuaku will be fleeting because the Rockets plan to send him back down to the Development League as soon as Cappella is healthy.

Advertisement

"It's a process, and like everybody says, you have to wait your turn," Onuaku told ABC News. "It's hard to be patient, but you have to learn and understand that everything is not going to be given to you; everything is not going to be easy."

Read more at ESPN and ABC News.