The NBA draft process is a once in a lifetime experience for those who go through it. While there are many broad similarities between the experiences of players during this process like hectic travel schedules and grueling pre-draft training, each player takes something different away from the process. I decided to talk to ten different players eligible for this year’s draft to ask them all the same set of questions to use as a means of comparing their experiences.
Up today are two mid-major big men in Harvard’s Keith Wright and Norfolk State’s Kyle O’Quinn. Wright won the Ivy League Player of the Year award as a junior and has been a part of the three winningest seasons in program history. This past season he averaged 10 points and nearly nine rebounds per game while shooting 58.6 percent from the floor and was a team captain for the 26-4 Crimson. He established himself as one of the best big men in recent Ivy League history and certainly one of the best players in Harvard history.
O’Quinn led Norfolk State to its first ever NCAA Tournament win with a thrilling victory over Missouri in the first round of the Tournament. O’Quinn took advantage of an undersized Missouri front court on his way to a 26 point, 14 rebound performance after averaging a double-double during the regular season. Additionally, O’Quinn was one of the standout performers at the Portsmouth Invitational Tournament for college seniors.
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Dime: Where did you do your pre-draft training?
Keith Wright: I was up at school working out with our strength and conditioning coach and our assistant coach Brian Adams, and also my good friend Michael Chamberlain. So I was up there for a little bit then I’ve been down in DC training as well.
Kyle O’Quinn: I trained at Impact Basketball in Las Vegas with Joe Abunassar.
Dime: Describe an average day during pre-draft training.
KW: I would wake up at around 5:15 each day when I was up at school. Then I would get breakfast, go lift and then get some speed, agility and strength work in. I would get done around 8 or 8:30 then I’d go back home and grab something else to eat, and rest up for a little bit. Around 11:30 to 12, I’d go back to the gym to do basketball workouts, usually for an hour and a half to two hours depending on the day. I’d go back home, get something else to eat, and possibly get some shots up or conditioning work in later. If there was some pickup or games going on, I’d try to play and work on my game a little bit.
KO: Wake up, get to the gym and work on skill work, perfecting your moves, a lot of shooting, and things like that. Then we would go upstairs and we’d lift and do strength and conditioning. Then later in the day we would come back and do agility work before playing three on three or five on five.
Dime: What was your diet like the last two months?
KW: I tried to stay away from white bread, white rice, and starches in general. I tried not to load up too much on the carbs. I’d try to have at least one meal a day, depending on the workout, where I had carbs like brown rice or multi-grain bread. I tried to have at least five meals a day. With me, as a guy who has been on the bigger side during my career, I tried to stay away from things like cheeseburgers and french fries, or fried foods in general. I was eating a lot of baked chicken, grilled chicken.
KO: Well it was pretty much, I was trying to put on weight, so I ate a lot of carbs, got a lot of protein after lifts and things like that.
Dime: What area of your game do you think you improved the most during the last two months?
KW: I got my confidence in my mid-range jumper back. I didn’t really shoot from mid-range a lot last year so I’ve been working on that a lot. I refined some other things about, but that was where I saw the biggest improvement.
KO: I think my biggest improvement was with my 18-foot jumper. There is a big difference with it now than from before just with the amount of shots I’ve been putting up.
Dime: What do you think the one thing is about you that stood out to teams during these workouts?
KW: I’m a competitor. I go hard all the time and I think they were surprised not only by the type of skills I had but by how I compete. Every drill I go really hard and I don’t take any plays off, my motor is incredibly high and I think that’s what stuck out to them.
KO: Either my motor or my ability to rebound and defend.
Dime: Who was the toughest player you had to guard in a workout?
KW: Nobody. No one (laughs).
KO: Meyers Leonard and Tyler Zeller. Leonard is a freak athlete and he’s 7-1, and I’d never gone up against an athletic center like that. Tyler Zeller is a very seasoned big man after playing at North Carolina for your years.
Dime: What was the weirdest interview question you got?
KW: The weirdest interview question was probably ‘What would you rather do if you had a free night? Would you rather spend it alone building something by yourself or doing a group project with a friend?’ If I had a free night I don’t know if I would build something, I mean don’t know if I would want to work on a project by myself during my free time. In my free time, I’d probably rest. That was probably the weirdest question.
KO: ‘What am I going to spend my first check on?’