When the Philadelphia 76ers recently signed center Kyle O’Quinn, Pendarvis Williams was really happy Him. Williams was a college teammate of O’Quinn during their playing days at Norfolk State.
If there’s anybody in Philadelphia who knows what O’Quinn can do on the basketball court, it’s Williams who played three seasons with him. He feels O’Quinn will be a great fit for the Sixers.
“I’m excited for him,” Williams said. “The Sixers have added a few nice pieces. He’ll be a great backup to [Al] Horford and [Joel] Embiid. He knows his role. He does it well. When he’s given a good opportunity, he’s always done pretty well.”
O’Quinn, a 6-foot-10, 250-pounder, appeared in 45 games for the Indiana Pacers last season. He averaged 3.5 points, 2.6 rebounds and 1.2 assists in 8.2 minutes a game. In addition to playing for the Pacers, O’Quinn has played for the New York Knicks and the Orlando Magic in his NBA career. He was originally chosen by Orlando in the second round of the 2012 NBA Draft.
“This is his eighth year,” Williams said. “A lot of bigs that were in his [draft] class they didn’t even last. Majority of those guys aren’t even in the league any more. He was always a hard worker. Once he got the opportunity, he took it and ran with it. Eight years later, he’s still here. So, that’s a blessing.”
Williams is blessed with a lot of talent. He was an All Public League standout at Bodine High School for International Affiars. He also played for the Hun School in Princeton, N.J. After his scholastic career, he played four seasons (2010-14) at Norfolk State. Williams, a 6-foot-6, 195-pound point guard, could score, handle the ball and defend. He could get the ball to O’Quinn in good position around the basket.
Williams and O’Quinn brought national attention to the Spartans’ basketball program during the 2012 NCAA tournament. Norfolk State, a 15-seed upset the No. 2 seeded Missouri, 86-84. O’Quinn led the way with 26 points on 10-of-16 shooting from the field while pulling down 14 rebounds. Williams had 20 points on 7-of-9 shooting from the field including 4-for-4 from three-point range. Williams says people still talk about that historic win.
“It readily comes up all the time,” said Williams, who just left the city to play professional basketball in France. “I was in [Las] Vegas when I first got back. I was in a gym called EOS Fitness in [Las] Vegas. One of the people was getting me set up. He said, ‘You’re name sounds familiar. Where did you play in college? I said Norfolk State. He pulls out a Missouri key chain out of his pocket and said, ‘Are you serious. I’m from Missouri. That loss still haunts us to this day.”
The Sixers are expected to be one of the top teams not only in the NBA Eastern Conference, but in the league as well. Williams is happy that O’Quinn will get a chance to play for his hometown 76ers who could be headed for a big year.
“The Sixers have a real good chance of coming out of the East,” Williams said. “I’m really excited for him to be in Philly.”