NORFOLK, Va. – Some three months after helping Norfolk State play “Cinderella” in the NCAA Tournament, Spartan center Kyle O’Quinn had another chapter in his own Cinderella story written Thursday night when the Orlando Magic selected him in the second round of the NBA Draft.O'Quinn
O’Quinn, who was the 49th overall pick in Thursday’s draft, is NSU’s first NBA draftee since Lee Johnson was taken in the third round of the 1988 draft by the Detroit Pistons. O’Quinn is also the first draftee from a MEAC school since Florida A&M center Jerome James was a second-round selection of the Sacramento Kings in 1998. He is the first HBCU player drafted since David Young of North Carolina Central was the 41st pick by the Sonics in 2004.
“This is the ultimate blessing that I’ve been hoping for a long time would come,” O’Quinn said. “I want to thank my coaches at NSU for taking a chance on me and getting me to this point. I’m excited to be a member of the Magic.”
“We are extremely proud of Kyle and what he accomplished at NSU,” Spartan head coach Anthony Evans said. “He’s worked hard to position himself for this day and we couldn’t be happier for him. We wish him nothing but the best in the next chapter of his basketball career.”
O’Quinn didn’t begin playing organized basketball until his junior season at Campus Magnet High School in Cambria Heights, N.Y., and NSU was the only school to offer him a scholarship. After serving as a valuable reserve for the Spartans as a freshman in 2008-09, O’Quinn blossomed into an All-MEAC honoree in his final three seasons. He averaged 11.5 points and 8.7 rebounds as a sophomore in 2009-10, earning second-team All-MEAC accolades. As a junior in 2010-11, O’Quinn averaged 16.4 points, 11.1 rebounds and 3.4 blocks per game en route to an All-MEAC first team nod and MEAC Defensive Player of the Year honors.
The 2011-12 season was a fairy tale year for O’Quinn and the Spartans. O’Quinn averaged 15.9 points, 10.3 rebounds and 2.7 blocks while leading the Spartans to their first-ever MEAC title and an upset of No. 2 seed Missouri in the NCAA Tournament. O’Quinn became the first player in MEAC history to sweep league Defensive Player of the Year and Player of the Year honors in the same season while helping NSU to a 26-10 record, the school’s most victories since 1994-95. He was also named MEAC Tournament MVP and the Lou Henson Award winner at the nation’s top “mad-major” player.
O’Quinn started making a name for himself nationally with a 26-point, 14-rebound effort in the win over Missouri in the Spartans’ first-ever NCAA Tournament appearance in March. He went onto earn MVP honors at the Portsmouth Invitational Tournament in April before attending June’s NBA Draft Combine in Chicago.
O’Quinn leaves NSU as the school’s all-time leader in blocks (283) and is No. 6 in rebounds (1,092) and 16th in scoring (1,607). He is the 14th Spartan to hear his name called in the NBA Draft, and first in the Division I era. Only three former Spartans have ever played in an NBA game: David Pope (Kansas City Kings, 1984-85; Seattle SuperSonics, 1985-86), Ray Epps (Golden State Warriors, 1978-79) and former NBA All-Star Bob Dandridge (Milwaukee Bucks, 1969-77 and 1981-82; Washington Bullets, 1977-81).