Jake's Take: Kyle's Draft Experience

Magic Radio producer Jake Chapman spends hours on end alone in his studio. If that’s not depressing enough, he regularly talks to himself. Jake’s Take is an aggregate of his ramblings, musings, and occasionally coherent thoughts. Follow him on twitter @jakemagic.

Posted by Jake Chapman, Tuesday, June 18, 2013, 12:45 PM

Kyle's Draft Experience

“It seemed like I couldn’t do any wrong,” Kyle O’Quinn said, sounding almost like an old man reflecting on his golden days. He’s in Norfolk, Virginia, just like he was one year ago, only his life couldn’t be more different. Last year at this time he was a ball of nerves as the NBA draft approached. The previous 120 days of his life, which had included a meteoric rise from relatively unknown Norfolk State Spartan to the star of an NCAA tournament Cinderella story to potential NBA draftee had been “a whirlwind,” he said. “I didn’t want it to stop.” Welp, it didn’t.

NBA Draft day is, for 60 young men, the equivalent of a college graduation + winning the lottery + OMG this is the best day ever! Tailored suits, lavish parties, beautiful women and agents with a phone to each ear are commonplace. But Kyle’s NBA draft experience last year is actually remarkably similar to nearly every day of his life. He spoke to some children from a local youth organization in the morning, and then spent his afternoon like he spends all afternoons, in the gym.

“I think it would be a little awkward if we changed our location of hangout or, counting money that I didn’t have, and I just wanted to keep it normal,” he said.

And so after the gym he got his hair cut. Then he went to another barber shop, just to chill. Then he did get a tailored suit (big shot!) and then he spent the evening with his family, and his agent. And by the time he got the all-important phone call from the Orlando Magic, he was confident and comfortable in the work he’d put in, knowing he’d done everything that was in his control. In fact, that’s his advice to all the kids awaiting their big day next week.

“If someone gives you an opportunity the only thing you can control is how hard you play when you are approached with that opportunity. You can’t… ‘oh man he gave this guy an opportunity, if he goes here, if I slide in this draft, if my range is here.’ All that stuff is out of your control.”

If Kyle O’Quinn sounds like a coach’s dream to you, that’s because he is. He went on to tell me how hard the Magic’s young core is working together this summer.

“It’s exciting because.. you can just see the growth, from the outside. If you stand a mile away you can see how close we’ve gotten over these last four or five weeks, and I think the coaching staff does a good job too, of keeping us together.”

O’Quinn and the Magic’s young core will welcome a few new faces to the team next Thursday. And if any of them are as precocious, hard-working and humble as O’Quinn, then Rob Hennigan will have hit another homer.

To hear the full interview with Kyle O’Quinn, click here.

Also, tune in to Magic Drive Time, the Draft Show presented by Ace Hardware on AM 740 The Game. We’ll be broadcasting live from the Magic Draft Party at Magic Grill at Amway Center from 6-10 PM Thursday, June 27th.