Kyle O’Quinn, Norfolk State: Only three weeks after the upset, we mostly remember that No. 15 Norfolk State beat No. 2 Missouri, breaking everyone’s bracket — including, famously, the quoteable O’Quinn’s. It broke because of his 26-point, 14-board, two-block performance that was stunning. At 6-10, 240 he’s a bigger body who is ridiculously efficient inside the arc, with DraftExpress noting he shoots 61 percent inside that limit. He proved it against Mizzou, and showed that even as a widebody he can dominate in a running game. Do I hear DeJuan Blair Lite?
His shot-blocking isn’t a fluke; for the second year in a row he’s near the top of DraftExpress’ top shot blockers per 40 minutes adjusted pace. He went on to miss 8-of-9 shots in a blowout loss to Florida. That puts a damper on the Spartans’ story, but it shouldn’t rule out O’Quinn, who showed the kind of possibility he can play at against Missouri.
Look for him to get a run at this summer’s tournaments to improve his chances of making a team next fall.
James Michael McAdoo, North Carolina: With the aforementioned Henson out with injury there was genuine concern a freshman could hold down the middle for the Heels, even in the first rounds of the tournament. Any concern turned out to be unfounded. The 6-9 freshman played so well Charles Barkley called him UNC’s most talented player. He certainly played the part at times, almost reminding of a Marvin Williams, who (in college, remember) was so good as a freakishly talented freshman role player.
He scored 17 points, with a nasty tip-slam (see below. No, really) but broke the Catamounts with consecutive three-point plays. Then against a good Creighton team where he guarded AP All-American Doug McDermott, McAdoo had nine points, four boards and three blocks as Henson returned, cutting into his minutes. Against Kansas he again led UNC in points, with 15, for the second time in three tourney games. Not bad for a guy averaging 15.6 minutes per game before the tournament.
The NCAA Tournament, even for elite prospects, is a great equalizer. To see him not only play well with the pressure of an assumed UNC Final Four run — and also in a wholly different role than he’d been asked to be all season — was even more impressive than his run-and-jump potential.