A 6'11", 259-pound (2.11 m, 117.5 kg) center, Magloire started 12 games as a sophomore for the Kentucky Wildcats team that won the national championship in 1998. He finished his college career as Kentucky's all-time leader in blocked shots, with 268.
He was drafted by the Charlotte Hornets with the 19th pick of the 2000 NBA Draft, but filled a reserve role for his first two seasons in which he averaged 6.5 points in 16.8 minutes per game. But in 2002-03, the Hornets' first year in New Orleans, he started all 82 games, averaging 10.3 points and 8.8 rebounds per game. He is nicknamed the Big Cat.
2003-04 was the season in which Magloire really began to get some respect from coaches and peers around the NBA. He averaged 13.6 points and 10.3 rebounds per game while starting all 82 games, and was even named to the Eastern Conference All-Star Team. Magloire being named an All-Star was perhaps a controversial decision at the time, with many pundits and sportswriters asking, "Who the heck is Jamaal Magloire?" But he more than held his own against the best the NBA had to offer, contributing 19 points and 8 rebounds in his 21 minutes of action.