HBCU’s Kyle O’Quinn Top Draft Prospect

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  • Kyle O'Quinn, Kris Brown

    No hoopster from a black college has been chosen since the Milwaukee Bucks took Shaw guard Flip Murray in the second round a decade ago. That dubious streak is likely to end Thursday night with the drafting of Kyle O’Quinn. (Photo: AP)

    It has been a long, dry season for HBCUs when it comes to the NBA Draft. No hoopster from a black college has been chosen since the SuperSonics took North Carolina Central guard David Young on the second round eight years ago.

    That dubious streak is likely to end Thursday night, however.

    Draft analysts project that Norfolk State forward/center Kyle O’Quinn, 6 ’10”, 240 lbs., will be taken somewhere between the late first round and the middle of the second round following a solid four-year career for the Spartans.

    “He is an intriguing player,’’ says an NBA team personnel executive who didn’t want to be identified. “He’s the kind of player, who if he gets to a team, can fight and make the roster. He’s a (Miami Heat forward) Udonis Haslem type.’’

    O’Quinn’s forte is rebounding and defense and he is considered an improving offensive player.

    “O’Quinn has a really high basketball IQ and can pass the ball , particularly for a big man,’’ says Morgan State coach Todd Bozeman, a former scout for the Toronto Raptors. “He has a nose for the ball, and he can run.’’

    O’Quinn burst on the scene by leading Norfolk State to an upset victory against second-seeded Missouri in the NCAA Tournament and served notice of his skills to anyone who wasn’t aware of his abilities. He scored 26 points and grabbed 14 rebounds as Spartans won 84-82.

    “That was a great experience not only for me, but for Norfolk State, for us to share that experience together,’’ O’Quinn says his team’s victory against Missouri. “It did a lot for the team and for myself. People could say what we read was correct. It was an opportunity of a lifetime for us, and it put me in a real good position to show what I could do. But it didn’t prove anything.’’

    O’Quinn was in the top 20 in NCAA Division I for the 2011-12 season in rebounding (10.3), blocked shots (2.7) and field goal percentage (57.3%). He also averaged 15.9 points and became the first player in Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference history selected Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year in the same season. He was also the 2011 Defensive Player of the Year.

    O’Quinn is ranked No. 41 among the top 100 draft prospects and is among the top 15 post players in this year’s draft. Teams like his size, athleticism and energy.

    They also like his work ethic and dedication to staying in shape. His body fat was measured at 8.0% at the NBA Pre-Draft Camp in Chicago, where the top 60 draft prospects were invited to work out, go through drills and scrimmage in front of personnel executives from all 32 NBA teams.

    “What people like is that after the end of the season, he transformed his body and got in shape,’’ said a personnel executive from an Eastern Conference team, who didn’t want to be identified because he is not authorized to speak publicly about draft prospects.

    O’Quinn has worked out for 19 teams – including Portland and Detroit – leading up to the draft in addition to playing at the pre-draft camp and the Portsmouth (Virginia) Invitational Tournament (PIT), the first pre-draft venue for draft prospects. The past two months have been a hectic time for O’Quinn, but he says he relished the opportunity to show teams the type of player he is since he didn’t get the type of exposure and attention at Norfolk State that his peers at larger schools may have gotten.

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