Nick Ongenda opts out of final season at DePaul, enters 2023 NBA Draft



Nick Ongenda dunks during the Blue Demons’ 84-70 loss against Creighton on Saturday, March 4. Ongenda plans on entering his name in the 2023 NBA Draft, leaving DePaul after four seasons.

DePaul standout center, Nick Ongenda, will forgo his final season of college eligibility and remain in the 2023 NBA Draft. 

The Canadian native took to his Instagram story on Thursday morning posting, “Here to stay, it’s officially time.” This cryptic statement suggested that Ongenda was set on pursuing his professional basketball career in the NBA.

This is the second straight year Ongenda declared for the NBA Draft. He was unable to workout for NBA teams last year due to travel issues from his home in Canada, resulting in him returning this past season.

“I think that I may have been the only one on DePaul twitter that wasn’t convinced he was coming back,” said DePaul junior Tim Anderson. “Nick tested the waters last year when he declared for the draft, but never got to go through the process due to travel issues and never worked out for any teams. To me, that was a sign that he was going to try again. The NBA is where all these players are trying to get to, and despite a small sample size this season he must have felt this was his best opportunity.”

Ongenda has spent the last four seasons with the Blue Demons, appearing in 82 games and starting 37 of them. He averaged 6.5 points, 3.7 rebounds and 1.6 blocks per game during his DePaul career. 

At DePaul, Ongenda made his presence known on the defensive end, ranking fourth all-time at DePaul with 135 blocks, behind Dallas Comegys (1983-87), George Mikan (1942-46) and Paul Reed (2017-2020).

Ongenda missed 25 games with a wrist injury and saw eight games prior to the Big East Tournament, but made an instant impact. The 6-foot-11 big man averaged 12.5 points, 6.5 rebounds and 4.4 blocks per game after returning from injury this past season. 

His best performance of the season came on Feb. 14 against St. John’s where he made his season debut, recording 11 points and six rebounds, a career-high eight blocks and two steals.

The biggest moment  for both Ongenda and the team came when he blocked Seton Hall’s shot as time expired to secure DePaul’s first round victory in the Big East Tournament at Madison Square Garden on Mar. 8. 

Ongenda regularly trains in Florida and spends most of his offseason time there preparing for the NBA Draft and has recently worked out for the Dallas Mavericks and Milwaukee Bucks. Both teams are looking for depth at center and could be a fit for Ongenda in the second round.

The Blue Demons starting lineup will look completely different compared to a year ago, with head coach Stubblefield being forced to rely on youth. Incoming freshman center Churchill Abbass has an opportunity to take over for Ongenda right away.

“I would be significantly more concerned about DePaul’s upcoming season if they had not brought in Churchill Abass,” said DePaul junior Ethan Baca. “I expect Stubblefield to put him in the starting five to complement the promising guard play. The team now needs another impactful big to have any hope of moving up in the Big East.”

It is unclear whether or not Ongenda is ready for the NBA, but his decision shocked a lot of people due to the fact that he is likely to go undrafted. Similar to other DePaul alumni, he has an opportunity to be the next Blue Demons product to make an impact in the NBA alongside the likes of current Miami Heat forward Max Strus and Philadelphia 76ers forward Paul Reed.

“It is unlikely that he gets drafted, given that there are only two rounds,” Anderson said of Ongenda’s chances of being drafted. “I do see a strong probability that he gets a summer league invite from several teams and has a chance to show what he can do over this summer. From there, a G-League contract is the goal. Like Max [Strus], he’ll have to show that he can make an impact at the next level and for a team that has the right combination of things going right and wrong to open an opportunity for him to jump to the NBA.”

The 2023 NBA Draft will take place on June 22 at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York and even with there being a slim chance of him being drafted, Ongenda still could find a role at the next level to showcase his talents.