May 25, 2012

Young man with a plan

Kevin McCarthy

Casey Norris has an objective and he is fiercely sticking with it. The 6-foot-2 senior at Newark Memorial High wants to play Division I basketball -- that's his desire and dream.

photo of Casey Norris

After being named the Most Valuable Player of the Mission Valley Athletic League (MVAL) for his production this past season which included 107 assists, 83 steals, 45 treys and 13.2 points per game, the top member of the North Coast Section champions is playing on the Lakeshow 2012 squad during the spring and summer. It's his last exposure as a prepster and he's hoping doing so brings an offer.

By the way, Coach Craig Ashmore's Newark Memorial squad went 28-5 overall in 2011-12, 12-0 in the MVAL.

Here's Ashmore on his backcourter: "Casey is such a competitor and did a great job for us this year. Put a road block in front of Casey and, where most kids would get discouraged, he goes to work. It's hard to measure intangibles but I'm lucky because I got to see him everyday. I wish someone would find him as valuable as we did."

Watching Norris on the court, it's easy to take a liking to his play, a combination of cerebral smarts and physical toughness. It's true that he's not overly blessed athletically but he picked up and ran with the only option for those wishing to counter such -- displaying a well-honed understanding of opportunities offensively and defensively that comes from learning tendencies and trusting instincts. Such as what's the most likely passing route when an opponent is double-teamed at a certain spot or which direction an off-the-ball defender will come from in helping out on a dribble-drive. Plus, there's Norris' willingness to acquire floor burns in any manner that will benefit his team.

Academically, there is zero concern. "I'm a qualifier, with a 3.5 grade point average and a test score above 1500."

Norris is frank about his goal. "I'm investing everything I have in D-I."

His description of his game is a rather unique and brutally honest one, something not often served up in today's world of inflated braggadocio. "I'm not great at anything but overall I'm good at pretty much everything."

Here's where Ashmore begs to differ. "One thing Casey is great at is he's a winner," adding "we put a lot of pressure on him, asking him to score, ballhandle, assist and defend and he came through."

What Norris holds as basketball highlights on the court took place in three separate games this past season. "Winning the NCS title this season (defeating Windsor High 60-41 on March 2), coming back after a big deficit [against Taft] to win on a three-pointer at the end in the Torrey Pines tournament, and scoring 15 straight points (for a total of 21) and passing for the game-winning assist in a victory over Serra" (48-46 on March 13)."

But if his desired offer doesn't materialize soon, Norris has an alternate temporary destination in mind: Coach John Peterson and Ohlone College, which just had 6-foot-1 backcourter Mikhael McKinney land a scholarship from Sacramento State and enjoyed a 15-12 overall record, 8-4 in the Coast Conference North Division season.

But the ultimate goal remains the same.