NORFOLK, Va. – The call to the hall has come down. When the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference hosts its basketball championships in downtown Norfolk, two athletes who left their mark in Hampton Roads will be inducted in the conference who left their mark in the MEAC.
Kyle O’Quinn, a former Norfolk State forward will be inducted, along with former Hampton football player and track & field athlete Jerome Mathis.
O’Quinn was a three-time All-MEAC selection, including his magical senior season in 2011-12.
That year, he won his second straight MEAC Defensive Player of the Year award, and became the first player in MEAC history to win both the MEAC Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year awards in the same season.
He capped that off by earning MEAC tournament Most Outstanding Performer honors after leading the Spartans, who went 26-10, to their first-ever MEAC tournament title and NCAA Division I tournament berth.
From there, O’Quinn led NSU to what was (at the time) just the fifth-ever upset by a No. 15 seed over a No. 2 seed in NCAA tournament history, as the Spartans knocked off Missouri 86-84 behind O’Quinn’s 26 points and 14 rebounds. Missouri was ranked No. 3 in the national polls entering the tournament and was a Final Four favorite of many prognosticators.
O’Quinn rode that performance and new-found fame to several more honors, including the Lou Henson Award for the nation’s top mid-major player – a first for an HBCU player.
He went on to be drafted by the Orlando Magic in the second round of the 2012 NBA Draft. Since then, he has played for the New York Knicks and currently plays with the Indiana Pacers.
O’Quinn will be just the second Spartan to earn induction into the MEAC Hall of Fame, joining former Division I track All-American and five-time Olympic sprinter Chris Brown from the 2009 class.
Jerome Mathis was a star on both the football field and the track for Hampton in the early 2000s. As a wide receiver for the Pirates, he averaged a touchdown every 4.4 receptions. A consensus All-American in 2004, Mathis also excelled in the kick return game.
In 2004, Mathis led the nation in receiving yards, averaging 29.8 per catch, and his 35.5-yard kickoff return average also led all of I-AA. He returned six kickoffs for touchdowns in his college career, breaking the NCAA career record at the time, and he had 4,541 all-purpose yards in just 35 career games.
On the track, Mathis was a two-time NCAA East Region champion in the 200-meter dash, setting the regional and school record with a personal-best 20.32 in 2004. He was also a two-time All-American in track & field, finishing runner-up in the 200-meter dash in 2003.
Mathis was a Pro Bowler with the Houston Texans, who drafted him in the fourth round in 2005, and also played for the Washington Redskins.
The rest of the 2019 class includes South Carolina State football player Dwayne Harper, Maryland Eastern Shore bowler Jessica Worsley, and longtime Florida A&M sports information director Alvin Hollins. The group will be inducted on Thursday, March 14, 2019 during MEAC basketball tournament week in Norfolk.