NORFOLK, Va. - It was an emotional night for former Norfolk State big man Kyle O'Quinn.
Almost seven years to the date when the Spartans upset No. 2 seeded Missouri in the 2012 NCAA Tournament, O'Quinn was back at his old stomping grounds to get his jersey retired.
Now with the NBA's Indiana Pacers, O'Quinn credited his family for where he is today, and how his Norfolk State career turned out.
"Obviously it's a personal accolade that we didn't see coming," O'Quinn told News 3.
"We wanted to make this weekend really about the people that really made it possible. My family made it possible they were always supportive, they never put too much pressure on me, they let me be me and do my thing. I think that jersey says more about the people involved more than myself."
After playing a key reserve role as a freshman on NSU’s MEAC Tournament runner-up team in 2009, O’Quinn earned three straight All-MEAC awards. He was a second-team All-MEAC choice as a sophomore in 2010, then was a two-time All-MEAC first-team selection in 2011 and 2012. O’Quinn averaged 11.5 points and 8.8 rebounds as a sophomore before posting back-to-back seasons where he averaged a double-double: 16.4 points and 11.1 rebounds in 2010-11, and 15.9 points and 10.3 rebounds in 2011-12.
But O’Quinn will forever be remembered for 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.
To this day, ESPN ranks the upset as the biggest in NCAA tournament history in terms of point spread. 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.
O’Quinn still ranks as the top shot-blocker in NSU history, with 283. He also ranks seventh in program annals in rebounds (1,092), 10th in field-goal percentage (55.3) and 15th in scoring (1,607 points). He is still the only two-time winner of the MEAC Defensive Player of the Year Award.
He will also be inducted into the MEAC Hall of Fame in March.