Norfolk State's O'Quinn looks at scoreboard during end of Spartans' win over Missouri in NCAA men's West Regional tournament in Omaha

Tourney upset has O’Quinn on NBA radar

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Kyle O’Quinn was one of basketball’s best-kept secrets, up until March 16, 2012. That was the day his Norfolk State Spartans defeated Missouri in a huge 15 over 2 tourney upset. Prior to that day, even people with orange roundies for brains — like those of us who write for CBT — may have been aware that O’Quinn was a dynamic scorer and shot-blocker, but likely harbored serious doubts that his skills would translate outside of the lowly MEAC.

We had to re-evaluate O’Quinn after that huge upset, and so did NBA scouts. As it stands today, the former Spartan has been flown to work out for the glitzy Los Angeles Lakers, and is scheduled to continue his victory tour through Brooklyn, San Antonio, San Francisco and Oklahoma City. The League wants him. It seems like a crazy dream, even to O’Quinn, though he’s starting to wake up to the possibilities. “It’s all becoming very real now,” he told the Hampton Roads Pilot Online.

Unlike some blue-chippers who may feel that the NBA is a birthright, O’Quinn knows the dream is still far away. He’s taking steps to make it all happen.

O’Quinn has been living in Las Vegas and working out at Impact Basketball, one of the world’s top training facilities. He’s acquired an agent, Al Ebanks. And he’s embraced the idea that many eyes are on him.

“Every time I work out at Impact, someone is watching,” O’Quinn said. “Or at least, that’s the way I look at it. People know that some really good basketball players are here at Impact and they float in and out all the time just to watch people work out. Someone could be watching me from the rafters and I don’t even know they are there, so I make sure I’m working out hard every time.”

O’Quinn’s productive paranoia is charming. If the phrase “dance like nobody’s watching” has become a shopworn cliche, maybe it’s time to replace it with O’Quinn’s motto: “work like everybody’s watching.”

BUBBLE BANTER: Key Atlantic 10, Big East bubble games

Kelan Martin, Kyle Alexander
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This post will be updated throughout the night.

Butler (KenPom: 41, RPI; 67) at Seton Hall (KenPom: 31, RPI: 37), 6:30 p.m.
LSU (KenPom: 53, RPI: 76) at South Carolina (KenPom: 45, RPI: 28), 7:00 p.m.
Nebraska at Wisconsin (KenPom: 51, RPI: 62), 7:00 p.m.
Saint Joseph’s (KenPom: 48, RPI: 30) at George Washington (KenPom: 71, RPI: 34), 7:00 p.m.
Missouri at Vanderbilt (KenPom: 35, RPI: 58), 9:00 p.m.
No. 14 Iowa State at Texas Tech (KenPom: 59, RPI: 51), 9:00 p.m.
Michigan (KenPom: 46, RPI: 56) at Minnesota, 9:00 p.m.
Washington (KenPom: 80, RPI: 57) at Utah (KenPom: 44, RPI: 16), 9:00 p.m.
San Diego State (KenPom: 65, RPI: 47) at Fresno State, 11:00 p.m.

PREGAME SHOOTAROUND: Ben Simmons, LSU get tested at South Carolina; more important bubble matchups

FILE - In this Nov. 24, 2015, file photo, LSU forward Ben Simmons (25) drives downcourt as teammate Antonio Blakeney (2) follows in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against North Carolina State in New York. For all of his gaudy numbers, Simmons is still trying to figure out the best way to put the Tigers in position to win. And now the schedule gets harder, starting with Tuesday night's, Dec. 29, 2015, tilt against Wake Forest, followed by the opening of Southeastern Conference play against Vanderbilt and No. 10 Kentucky. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens, File)
(AP Photo/Kathy Willens)
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GAME OF THE NIGHT: LSU at South Carolina, 7:00 p.m.

LSU attempts to stay atop the SEC standings when they travel on the road to face South Carolina. The Gamecocks have been very tough at home this season and they’re trying to form a potential four-way tie in the conference standings if they’re able to win this one (and Texas A&M wins tonight). It will be intriguing to see how Ben Simmons fares against South Carolina’s stingy defense.

THIS ONE’S GOOD, TOO: Saint Joseph’s at George Washington, 7:00 p.m.

An important game in the Atlantic 10 as Saint Joseph’s heads to the Smith Center to play surging George Washington. The Colonels have won three straight games as they try to stay with VCU and Dayton and make a move to tie the Hawks in the league standings. CBT’s Rob Dauster will be in the building for this one, so make sure to follow him on Twitter for updates.

FIVE THINGS TO WATCH FOR

  1. No. 21 Baylor will have a tough one in the Big 12 when they go on the road at Kansas State. The Wildcats just knocked off Oklahoma and the Octagon of Doom is a very tough place to play, even if Kansas State is struggling in the standings.
  2. No. 16 SMU will try to stay in the lead in the American as they host Tulsa. The Golden Hurricane could really use a road win like this for its postseason chances.
  3. An intriguing Pac-12 contest tips as Washington heads to Utah. The Pac-12 standings are a mess right now, but these two teams still have a chance to make one final move for the regular season title if they start building momentum now.
  4. In the SEC, Alabama hosts No. 15 Texas A&M, a team that has lost three of its last four games. The Aggies will be favored in this road contest, but this one could be interesting because of Avery Johnson’s unique connection to Texas A&M. Avery Johnson Jr., a transfer guard sitting out this season at Alabama, played for the Aggies last season, so he could have some useful tips for his dad on slowing down Texas A&M’s potent offense.
  5. No. 20 Providence will be looking for revenge when they head to Milwaukee to face Marquette. The Golden Eagles currently sit eighth in the Big East standings, but they did win on the road by a point over the Friars earlier this season.