In anticipation for today’s draft, I have searched high and low for a sleeper candidate, or a potential second round impact player. I think I have found him. Meet Norris Cole, a 6-1 skinny point guard out of Cleveland State who entered the draft as somewhat of an unknown. However, he has impressed NBA scouts, and has really held his own in recent workouts.
Scouting Report: Norris is a solid “jack of all trades player”, who doesn’t do one thing particularly well, but can do everything pretty well. He is a true point guard who likes to have the ball in his hands, and control the game. He has good ball control, and for the most part can make all of the passes. Offensively, Cole is solid. He has a lights out mid-range shot, as well as good speed and some subtle moves to get to the rim. The one glaring weakness in his game is his inability to sink the NBA range three point shot, which he is going to need to work on if he wants to succeed.
What he lacks in athletic ability, he makes up for in the intangibles. Scouts have raved about Norris’ tremendous basketball IQ, drive, and work ethic. Coming from such a small program, Norris has strived to make a name for himself. His college coach, Gary Waters, said that Norris loved playing non-conference games (Cleveland State is in the Horizon League), as it would put him against more well-known point guards, and it would give him a chance to show that despite the fact he played for a small school, he could compete with the best. Norris isn’t the most athletic or flashy prospect, but he has put in the time, and improved tremendously. Over the course of the last three seasons, Cole has improved his statistics without an increase in minutes, which is commendable. He steadily increased his point totals from 13.3 in the 2008/09 season, to 16.3 in the 2009/10 season, and then to an impressive 21.7 points per game in 2010/11. In Norris’ case, he benefitted from staying in college his senior season to work on his game. He averaged 20+ points, 5+ assists, and 5+ rebounds, and really grew as a player.
Norris showed a very promising defensive prowess in college. In his senior campaign he averaged an excellent 2.2 steals per game. He is a tough defender who uses his quickness to stay in front of his man and guard the pass lanes. Again, he is not the greatest defender, but he is extremely coachable, and always puts forth his best effort on the defensive side of the court.
Judging the fit: I really think that Norris is a tremendous player, and I think that had he gone to a bigger program elsewhere, he would for sure be a first round pick. Seeing as how he didn’t, I think he could really be a steal in the second round.
Assuming the Knicks take a big in the first round such as Biyombo or Vucevic, I hope the Knicks look Norris’ way in the second round (assuming they have a pick come draft time). He really is everything the Knicks need; he is a facilitator who can also put the ball on the ground, and take it to the hoop off of the dribble.
The Verdict: I hope the Knicks take Norris, but all of that depends on their first round pick. Assuming they go big man, I know that he is on the Knick’s radar, but if they take a guard I think the Knicks will look elsewhere. I really hope this kid has a good career in the NBA no matter where he goes. I particularly like it when athletes from small programs succeed. I wish Norris and his hair the best on Thursday. Honestly look at his hair; I think the high top fade takes the cake for best hair in the draft.