Twenty-five years later Norris Cole looks to be the next, but he only has two rounds to work with.
Before Smith, Cleveland State products Darren Tillis and Franklin Edwards were each taken by the Boston Celtics and Philadelphia 76ers as 1st round picks in the 1981 and 1982 Drafts respectively. If Cole sneaks into the first round on June 23rd, that would make twenty-nine years in between 1st round picks for the Vikes.
Paul Roba was also taken in that 1981 Draft, but not until the 9th round. Three other CSU hoopers were drafted into the NBA before 1981, and all three were taken after round number two. So what Norris Cole is about to do doesn’t happen too often.
Where Cole ends up being selected is anyone’s guess at this point, but he’s most definitely in the mix. The consensus appears that he’ll hear his name called somewhere early in round number two, however late in the first round is not totally out of the question.
Last week, The Hoop Doctors projected Cole going to San Antonio with the 29th overall pick; saying this about the 6’2″ 175 Senior from CSU:
“Norris is the perfect example of a player making the right decision to stay in school. By returning for his senior season, he has steadily increased his all-around numbers to being the lone Division I player to average 20+ points, 5+ rebounds, and 5+ assists.
He burst upon the national scene with his 41 point, 20 rebound, 9 assist effort against an opponent in February but his biggest improvement has been his true PG skills, where he was a finalist or the Bob Cousy Award given to the nation’s best PG. He’s a solid PG prospect with above average offensive abilities and is at his best in pick and roll situations.
Some concerns include lack of high level competition, having only average athleticism, and must improve range on his jumper as he doesn’t connect on a ton of shots from three. Norris is a 4 star PG prospect, better served as a scorer than facilitator on a team with an already in place superstar.”
What I think helps Norris most is the fact that he has demonstrated the ability to improve over the course of his career. NBA people respect Gary Waters, and Norris Cole not only let Waters coach him, but continued to develop year-after-year over the course of his career.
He transformed himself from a high school prospect who should be playing at Cleveland State, to a draft prospect that should be playing in the NBA over that four year period. How good can he become in four more years?
Has he peaked, or is he just scratching the surface to an extent is the question that NBA scouts are weighing at the moment. My personal opinion is that he will continue to respond to coaching, and continue to develop on the next level. As a professional, playing basketball as his job everyday, I’d bet my house that Cole is in the gym launching up however many jumpers it takes to improve on those perceived weakness from the outside.
If an NBA team agrees with me on that, he could go in Round One. Most mock drafts have him going in Round Two at the moment though.
In their mock draft last updated Thursday night, Draft Express has Cole going 37th overall to the Clippers. As of yesterday, Hoopsworld has Cole at 42 overall to the Pacers; a bit low I think, but we’ll see. NBA Draft Insider had him at 33rd to the Pistons this week, and NBA Draft.net has him going 35th to the Kings. An average of these five mock drafts has Norris Cole right around the 35-36 range, for whatever that’s worth.
If this were any other year Norris Cole might be a sure-fire first round pick. This time around though, the talent-pool just happens to be loaded with quality PG’s. Besides the Kyrie Iriving’s, Kemba Walker’s, Brandon Knight’s and Jimmer Fredette’s, there’s also a strong group in the back-end of the late 1st / early 2nd with whom Cole’s battling.
Charles Jenkins out of Hofstra is making a late surge, Duke’s Nolan Smith has been around there for some time, and guys like Darius Morris from Michigan and Reggie Jackson from BC are all right there with Cole trying to slide into that first round as well.
I’d take Norris over all of those guys though. He’s a solid person, will be a solid pro, and it’s good to see a guy like that representing Cleveland on the next level. I’ll be a Norris Cole fan wherever he ends up, just hope that’s not in Florida somewhere.