Not many Heat draft picks get to play in their first season on a Pat Riley-run team, especially on a Heat team with 3 superstars, but Norris Cole has been an exception. His electrifying play had made him a fan-favorite and his style has reminded people a little bit of Dwyane Wade. After his 2nd 20 point game of the season on Tuesday night, a lot of people around the NBA are wondering who this Norris Cole guy is.
Growing up in Dayton, Ohio, Cole attended Dunbar High School, where he was a 4-sport star. He had other options besides basketball, but eventually chose going to play at Cleveland State because he felt his best chance of being a pro athlete was in basketball. Boy, was he right!
At Cleveland State, Cole had an amazing career. His senior year, he averaged 21.7 points, 5.8 rebounds, 5.3 assists and 2.2 steals per game. What really tells you about his game is that he was the first player in the Horizon League to win both Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year. Although he played at a small school, that meant enough to Pat Riley for him to trade up for him on draft night. The fact that he played hard on both sides of the ball was the reason they valued him so much.
Cole made his NBA debut in the win against the Mavericks, but really had his coming-out party in the 2nd game of the season against the Celtics. He had 20 points, 4 assists and shot 50% from the field. After that, he became a fan-favorite and a much-needed spark off the bench. Cole is averaging 8.7 points and 2.4 assists in just 21 minutes per game this season, but over the last 3 games, he has averaged 13.3 points, 2.3 assists, and 1.3 steals.
While he may not be the starting point guard for the Heat, yet, Cole is a guy the Heat are going to need in the long run. He has proved that he is not afraid to shoot and lead the team in sticky situations and is very confident when he leads the team. Cole’s intensity on both sides of the ball really fits in with the Heat’s style of play and that’s why he has gotten so much playing time. He’s still young, but give young Norris Cole a couple of years, and he’ll be one of the best players in the NBA. But before he does, Norris needs to bring back the high-top fade he had while at Cleveland State.