Denton: Osby Looking to Follow in O'Quinn's Footsteps
By John Denton
July 2, 2013
ORLANDO – If Romero Osby is looking for inspiration to accomplish his lifelong goal of playing in the NBA, he need look no further than across the Orlando Magic’s locker room to new teammate Kyle O’Quinn.
It was a year ago that O’Quinn came to the Magic as a long-shot second-round pick, but he played himself onto the Opening Night roster and secured a guaranteed contract by thriving in the team’s summer league games.
Now, Osby – a rugged 6-foot-8, 232-pound forward – is looking to repeat the feat of O’Quinn and play well enough over the next two weeks to earn a spot on the Magic’s roster.
``There’s definitely an opportunity there for me, but I have to make the best of that opportunity by playing my tail off and showing the coaches that I’m here to stay and that I want to be a part of this team,’’ Osby said. ``That’s what I’m willing to do and I’m willing to do whatever it takes.’’
Orlando selected Osby in the second round of last Thursday’s NBA Draft with the 51st overall selection. Osby, a native of Meridian, Miss., spent one season at Mississippi State before transferring to Oklahoma for his final two years of college eligibility. It was there that he played for former NBA coach Lon Kruger, averaged 16.0 points and 7.0 rebounds a game as a senior and showcased his skills as a potential NBA player.
GM Rob Hennigan said he feels that Orlando’s two draft picks, guard Victor Oladipo and Osby, bring a workmanlike mentality to the Magic that will help strengthen the team’s toughness.
``We could not be more excited about Vic and Ro and what they are going to add to our team and our identity,’’ Hennigan said. ``Romero is a guy who, as we watched him throughout his career, he’s a no-nonsense, blue-collar player who plays with toughness. He knows what he can do and what he can’t do, and he embraces the type of identity that all of us with the Magic want to be about. We’re excited about that pick.’’
Osby is a self-described ``tweener’’ because he doesn’t have the prototypical length of a power forward, but he also doesn’t have the blazing speed of a small forward. But he is able to carve out a niche with impressive power and surprising quickness for someone who is 232 pounds.
He scored at least 17 points in the final nine games of the season for Oklahoma, including 22 points in a second-round loss to San Diego State in the NCAA Tournament. He had monster games against Texas during the regular season, pounding the Longhorns for 31 and 29 points. He had another 26-point effort against West Virginia and he pounded Oklahoma State for 18 points and 15 rebounds.
``I’ve always been cast as a tweener, kind of, but being bigger and stronger now at the power forward position after getting my body right, I’m able to take the big guys off the dribble and stretch them out with my jumper,’’ Osby said. ``And if there’s a smaller guy on me I can use my size and quickness on them to post up. My coach in college (Kruger) put me on the big stage and let me display that on a nightly basis.’’
Osby will knows that he will be on display in the Southwest Airlines Orlando Pro Summer League that runs from Sunday through next Friday at the Magic’s practice court inside the Amway Center. The Celtics, Nets, Pistons, Rockets, Pacers, Heat, Thunder, 76ers, Jazz and Magic will field teams full of young NBA players, recent draft picks and free agents for the six-day event that will crown a champion for the first time.
Much of the Magic’s young core of Tobias Harris, Maurice Harkless, Andrew Nicholson, Doron Lamb, Oladipo, O’Quinn and Osby will compete in the summer league. The event will not be open to the public because of space reasons, but the games will allow the Magic’s group of young players to showcase their improvements to the coaching staff.
Osby said his goal will be to show Magic coaches that he is willing to scrap and claw defensively and basically do whatever it takes to earn an invite to training camp in October.
``I’m able to bring that defensive effort. It starts there in the NBA playing against the best players in the world, so you’ve got to be able to defend and earn your minutes in that regard,’’ Osby said. ``The points and rebounding are things that I can add, but the defensive end is somewhere I can thrive because of my athleticism and strength and being quicker.’’
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