How Former Norfolk State Legend Kyle O’Quinn is Advancing the State of HBCU Basketball 

Written by Thomas Scott 

July 24, 2017

Whether you realize it or not, Kyle O’Quinn is one of the most important figures in HBCU basketball history. His on court success embodies the developmental capabilities of HBCU programs and their coaches. Yet, his off the court advocacy has the power to advance the state of HBCU basketball for many years to come.

Humble Beginnings 

Not long ago, Kyle O’Quinn was a senior at the Magnet School of Law and Government in Cambria Heights, New York. O’Quinn had dreams of playing collegiate ball, but the scholarship offers just weren’t there. Eventually, his one and only offer would come from Norfolk State. At the time, no one could have predicted exactly how much O’Quinn would reward Norfolk for taking a chance on him.

Norfolk Era

The Norfolk era got off to somewhat of a slow start. As a freshman, O’Quinn averaged a modest 5.3 points and 3.4 rebounds per game.  However, by his senior season O’Quinn had become the focal point of his team. Under the tutelage of Norfolk State Coach Robert Jones, O’Quinn upped his averages to 15.9 points, 10.3 rebounds, and 2.6 blocks per game. His play helped the Spartans secure the #15 seed in the NCAA tournament. With the nation watching, O’Quinn dominated the #2 seed Missouri Tigers putting up 26 points, 14 rebounds, and 2 blocks in route to an upset victory.  

Kyle O’Quinn after historic NCAA upset. Photo courtesy of Washington Times

To this day, only eight #15 seeds have ever won in the history of the NCAA Tournament. 

NBA Legacy

Despite averaging double-doubles in both his junior and senior seasons, Kyle O’Quinn once again found himself overlooked. The 6’10, 241 pound center was eventually selected 49th overall in the 2012 NBA Draft. Currently, he has managed to become a quality role player in the league. Last season was his most productive, averaging 6 points and nearly 6 rebounds per game for the New York Knicks. 

Even with his level of success, O’Quinn has never forgot his roots. This offseason while coaching at the Norfolk State Green and Gold camp he told WKTR reporters,

“My appreciation will never run out- for the University, for the coaching staff, that’s why I’m here ever year. They truly gave me an opportunity no other school gave me and my family and I are tremendously grateful.”

O’Quinn has not limited giving back to only Norfolk State. This past weekend he was a coach in the inaugural NBA Player’s Association HBCU Top 50 Basketball Camp. The camp was created to both enhance the skills of the top players in the SIAC and SWAC conferences and groom current and former NBA players for potential careers in coaching. Kyle O’Quinn is the perfect role model for aspiring HBCU athletes. He maximized his time at Norfolk State, won a historic NCAA tournament game, graduated, and has a successful NBA career.

His commitment to investing in a game that invested in him has the potential to advance the state of HBCU basketball as a whole. We hope to see O’Quinn leading an HBCU Basketball program as a coach when his NBA playing days are over.

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