For a college basketball player, its amazing how one moment in March can change a life.
It is afairy-taletime for basketball players. Its a rite of duty for the favorites. Its heaven on Earth for the underdogs. Its a stage set to experience the unthinkable, unimaginable, unforeseeable to everyone but the guy who hits the buzzer beater to send the No. 2 seeded team home wondering, What just happened here?
Madness, thats what happened. For Kyle OQuinn, that madness put him directly in front of the people that could alter the course of his life.
Thats what got me here. That shot! the rookie center said jokingly. He was referring to the shot heard around the basketball world, the one that stunned secondseeded Missouri in the first round of the NCAA Tournament last season.Not that his performance 26 points, 14 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 blocks, a steal and the buzzer beater in the 86-84 win for Norfolk State University was the sole reason he made it to the NBA, but it definitely got his foot in the door. His personality and his eagerness to learn are what sealed the deal -- and maybe the fact that he has a 7 foot, 5 inch wing span.
In this week's Q&A, FOX Sports Florida sat down with the Magics young center to learn a little bit more about the guy behind that massive reach.FS Florida: From the time you finished playing your last college game until the night you were drafted, what was that period in your life like?
OQuinn: Ahh man. It was a time of uncertainty. You dont know where you were going to end up, you dont know whos going to draft you, or if your even going to get drafted. You dont really know anything.
FS Florida: Thats not just in the draft process though. A lot of recent college graduates are in that same period of uncertainty right now. They may not be working to get to the NBA, but they're in an internship, or looking for a job and they have goals, but they have that pressure, that voice in their ear saying, Whats next? How were you able to get your mind off all the unknown and just focus on your goals?
OQuinn: Just realizing that whatever step you take next is an opportunity. It may not be the end goal but it's movement in the right direction. Sometimes when we dont know whats coming next, were afraid to step out there, afraid of going for it and failing in a sense. But if its something your passionate about you have to be willing to put yourself out there. I personally relied on God and a lot of prayer and staying close to the people that will help you and encourage you through the ups and downs. You dont need a lot of people in your ear because thats when all the worry starts to set in. You just need lot hoping and praying and hard work.FS Florida: Pretty wise for a 22 year-old.
OQuinn: (laughing) Nah, I just try to learn something from every experience.
FS Florida: Well youre here now, so thats good.
OQuinn: (laughing) Yeah, yeah I am. And I think the hard work is what makes you cherish it more. Everybody has a story; you know the work they put in behind the scenes that nobody knows about. I think thats what makes us not take it for granted.
FS Florida: Talk about the relationship you have with the other rookies. Its kind of like coming into college with the guys in your graduating class, they usually end up being your closest friends.OQuinn: Yeah, I know what you mean. Were all going through this rookie year together, so it is a lot like a class as you said. Some of the mistakes we see each other make were able to talk to each other and learn from them together. Rookies have good days and bad days, so its great to have each other to lift each other up on the bad days and to humble each other on the good ones. Keeps you balanced because its a long season.
FS Florida: How is it like off the court hanging out with those guys?
OQuinn: All fun. All fun. All of us are four year guys, so were all the same age. So were close.FS Florida: But not Moe (Maurice Harkless) though.
OQuinn: Yeah thats true. But, Moe is very mature for his age. So hes cool. Then me, Drew (Andrew Nicholson), and DJ (DeQuan Jones) we just came out of the same situation, four years of college, graduating, and then going through the draft and everything that comes with that. We can relate to each other really well. So were all cool off the court. And we all joke around a lot and take jokes well, so its all fun.
FS Florida: Those guys are all on Twitter, as are a lot of young people. But, youre off Twitter now. Why no more Twitter?
OQuinn: I just felt like it was a distraction. Just all around, I mean I looked at it all the time. And taking it away took away that distraction in my life and helped me focus on the task at hand, you know the job I have now. It was hard for me to say, oh, I can just have it and not look at it. I tried that. But, youre on the plane with a lot of down time, youre in the hotels, and its right on your phone. Youre going to look at it. So I just stopped it all as a whole.FS Florida: Outside of basketball, what do you do with your time?
OQuinn: Recover. Rest! (laughing). No, right now I just hang out. Try to find things to do to get my mind off of basketball sometimes because it can be a lot if youre just all basketball all the time. So you try to do some fun things. Maybe go out to dinner or catch a movie or other fun things you can do in the great city of Orlando.
FS Florida: Do you have a favorite restaurant that you like to go to?
OQuinn: Oh yeah. KeKes. The breakfast is amazing. I try to go there every chance I get. I try to get there before they close, because they close at 2 p.m.
FS Florida: What is it like being a rookie in the NBA?
OQuinn: Its a huge learning experience. Its leaving the absolute top of college and going straight to the bottom in the NBA.
FS Florida: What is it like with the veterans and the relationship you have with them?
OQuinn: I think we have some of the best veterans on this team. I havent been around any other veterans so I may be biased. But our guys are extremely helpful on and off the court. So it helps out a lot having them here.
FS Florida: Some teams assign one veteran to one rookie almost as in a mentor role. Do you all do that here? It seems like its more mentorship by committee with you guys.
OQuinn: At the beginning it was kind of like each veteran tried to help out one rookie, but there such good people and such helpful people that they couldnt do that. So now its definitely more like a committee. We as rookies can go to anyone for help or advice.FS Florida: So are you in to fashionstylesneakers?
OQuinn: Mmmm. I mean I do get a pair of Jordans every now and then.
FS Florida: And what about your fashion sense?
OQuinn: It was always tough get all the latest clothes and shoes because Im so tall. But, now Im getting into a little bit more now that I have the money to shop for my size.
FS Florida: Do you consider yourself fashionable?
OQuinn: Yeah. But, Moe (Maurice Harkless) helps me out a lot. Hes a pretty fashionable guy so he lets me know whats nice and whats not.
FS Florida: So whats up with the beard?
OQuinn: (laughing) Just something new Im trying. I usually just keep it real low like a shadow. But, it was hard keeping it shaved down with all of this traveling. I couldnt get to the barber shop so I said, Let me see how it looks if it I grow it out. Its less maintenance this way.
FS Florida: Do you like it?
OQuinn: Yeah I do. I like it.
FS Florida: Whats your biggest pet peeve?
OQuinn: Someone talking on the phone in the car. Its kind of rude. Its kind of rude. DJ does it the most. Thats why I never drive with him. We always have to take separate cars. That and loud music in the car. Especially when youre the passenger, you cant really control the music because its not your radio. Hate loud music in the car. Thats why I'm always the driver.FS Florida: What type of music do you listen to, not loudly of course?
OQuinn: (laughing) I mean I listen to a mixture. R&B, Hip-Hop, Gospel. Just depending on how Im feeling at the moment. You know before a game and on Sundays you got to get some gospel in.
FS Florida: On Sundays?
OQuinn: Oh yeah! Every Sunday.
FS Florida: So name some gospel artists that you like.
OQuinn: Smokie Norful, Donnie McClurkin, Tye Tribett if you want to get hype a little bit.FS Florida: What was it like growing up in Jamaica Queens, NY.OQuinn: It was pretty good. I lived in a pretty good area, it wasnt a really tough area. Nice community.
FS Florida: Do you like New York?
OQuinn: No. Too many people. Its always crowded everywhere you go.
FS Florida: Its a fast life
OQuinn: Yeah, I would never live there. I dont like it. Im more of like a lets take it easy type of guy.