Google Custom Search

BCSB header

by Lut Williams

There is only one player on a 2014 opening day NBA roster that played basketball at a historically black college or university. He is former Norfolk State center and 2011-12 MEAC Player of the Year, Kyle O‘Quinn, entering his third year with the Orlando Magic.oquinnO'Quinn

Since being taken in the second round of the 2012 Draft by the Magic, 48th overall, O‘Quinn has carved out a role as a valuable player on the Magic‘s front line.

He played in 57 games, starting five his rookie season averaging 4.1 points and 3.7 rebounds per game. A year ago, he earned 19 starts in 69 games, and upped his numbers to 6.2 points and 5.3 rebounds and added 1.3 blocks per game.

Looking for better size on its front line, the 6-10 O‘Quinn started the Magic‘s first game Tuesday against the tall front line of the New Orleanas Pelicans. He picked up three quick fouls in the first quarter and later sprained an ankle that limited him to four points, two rebounds, five assists and three blocks in just 21 minutes.

“He turns his ankle, which could take away from the concentration and your goal of what you’re trying to do for the team,“ Magic head coach Jacque Vaughn was quoted on the Orlando website saying of O’Quinn, who had three fouls by the 5:17 mark of the first quarter.

“Kyle had some good possessions, but the foul trouble early got him not as physical as he wanted to be the rest of the game.“ That lack of physicality helped 6-10 budding New Orleans star Anthony Davis score 26 points, pull down 17 rebounds and block nine shots in an opening night 101-84 win. O‘Quinn was held out of practice on Wednesday, and did not play Thursday against Washington.

Role players like O‘Quinn have been the norm recently for black college players that made it in the NBA. Ben Wallace, Darryl Armstrong and Ronald Murray, like O‘Quinn, entered the league as role players and eventually played those roles well enough to become consistent contributors. Those same roles were played by the likes of Charles Oakley, Rick Mahorn, Anthony Mason and Lindsay Hunter before them.

Wallace, a former CIAA star undrafted out of Virginia Union, had the most success. The defensive enforcer, rebounder and all-around energy guy was the closest thing the league had seen on the court to the enigmatic Dennis Rodman though Wallace substituted cornrows, a blowout Afro and signature headban for Rodman‘s colored hair A diary of commentary on the world of Historically Black College and University Sports WALKING A FAMILIAR PATH Kyle O‘Quinn is not the first black college player having to find his way and place in the NBA  and make-up. They were both hard hat, blue-collar workers, but while Rodman traded on flamboyance, Wallace was all business.armstrong-murray

He carved out a star-studded 17-year NBA career particularly during a seven-year stretch as a crowd and fan favorite with the Detroit Pistons. “Big Ben,“ as he was called, was a four-time winner of the league‘s Defensive Player of the Year, four-time all-star and six-time all-NBA team member in addition to being one of the stalwarts on the rocksolid 2004 Pistons NBA championship team.

Armstrong, who played two years of basketball (and two years of football) at Fayetteville State of the CIAA, followed a similar path to success. The six-foot dynamo bounced around through several U.S. and overseas minor leagues before making his mark as a crafty floor general, defensive hawk and sparkplug during a nine-year stay in Orlando and over a 14-year NBA career.

He won the NBA Sixth Man of the Year Award and the NBA Most Improved Player Award in 1999, thus becoming the first player in NBA history to win both awards simultaneously. During his time in Orlando, the team never posted a losing record, making the post-season seven times. Armstrong scored in doublefigures in four of five years in Orlando with a career-high 16.2 ppg. average in the 1999- 2000 season.

While Wallace and Armstrong made their money through hustle, grit and determination, Murray, the former CIAA and Div. II Player of the Year out of Shaw, made his dough getting buckets. Taken in the second round of the 2002 Draft by Milwaukee, Murray quickly gained a reputation as a confident scorer and lethal offensive weapon first subsituting for an injured Ray Allen in Milwaukee and later securing spots as an off-the-bench scorer for eight teams over an eight-year span.

Ironically, after stints playing in Turkey and the Ukraine, Murray was back in the states claimed by the Austin Spurs of the NBA Development League last November and averaged over 21 points per game.

In his short stay in the league, O’Quinn has shown many of the same traits as his predecessors. He can block shots, play defense and score when called upon. In fact, there’s evidence his game is expanding.

Vaughn has given O’Quinn the green light to shoot 3-pointers this season, something he showed he could do during his timie at Norfolk State. According to the Orlando Sentinel, O’Quinn incorporated the long-range to his arsenal over the offseason in order to help his team stretch the floor.

“It could open up a lot of things,“ O’Quinn said.

Well said. Stay tuned.

Holmes out at Florida A&M, but not without a parting shot After an 0-5 start, speculation raged that Florida A&M would part ways with second-year head coach Earl Holmes. That was almost a surety if the Rattlers had lost a date three weeks ago against MEAC doormat, winless Savannah State.earl holmesHolmes

Well, the former Rattler standout, known as “The Hitman“ during his playing days, led his team to consecutive wins over SSU and Howard before a loss last week at North Carolina A&T’s homecoming dropped them to 2-6 this season, and 6-16 over his past two-plus years.

But it looks like the Rattler administration was just waiting for the next loss before dropping the ax as Athletic Director Kellen Winslow announced Tuesday that Holmes was being replaced by Corey Fuller.

The firing comes just as FAMU prepares for its homecoming this Saturday vs.

Norfolk State in Tallahassee and apparently it didn’t sit well with the Rattler players.

According to a report by the Tallahassee Democrat, the team marched from its field house to Winslow’s office to demand a meeting with the AD, and initially canceled Tuesday’s practice before electing to proceed with the practice under Fuller at a later time than originally scheduled.

Holmes told the Democrat he was “amazed” at the timing of the school’s decision.

“As a Hall of Famer – FAMU Hall of Fame and MEAC Hall of Fame – on homecoming weekend … I don’t know,” he said.

“This isn’t the FAMU I grew up in. I apologize to everybody on behalf of FAMU.”



Please consider supporting our work.

The pandemic has financial consequences, especially for Black-owned businesses. Ad revenue is shrinking so we are asking you directly for your financial support. You can use the Cash App and contribute to $onnidan or process your donation through Square