It’s not surprising if you haven’t heard of him. Though he may be this year’s men’s basketball captain—as a junior, no less—the only returning starter and “arguably the best athlete in the league,” according to ivybasketball.com, it’s still understandable if you haven’t heard of him.
After all, the junior from California is admittedly soft-spoken and his insertion into the starting lineup last year was overshadowed by senior Patrick Harvey’s departure from the team.
It’s not quite so understandable if you haven’t ever heard Norman making a big play. No, not heard of. Just heard.
That’s because the roar that comes out of Lavietes Pavilion every time Norman makes a steal, drives the lane or blocks a shot seems to echo far beyond the athletic complex and into the cushy dorm rooms of Harvard students both in the River Houses and in the Quad.
The source of that eruption—Norman’s personal entourage, you could call it—all but makes up for his relative silence.
“Those are just my good friends and blockmates,” Norman says with a quiet chuckle and sheepish grin.
Such an understated response seems a bizarre reaction from a man who appears to have the captaincy locked up for the next two years and is the leader of a talented, if inexperienced, team.
“To be honest, this is probably the toughest time I’ve ever had with basketball,” Norman says.
Wait, what’s he saying? He’s already a captain as a junior. Shouldn’t he be a bit more arrogant? Seriously, where does this guy come from?
Though he lettered all four years on the varsity squad at Bellarmine College Prep, Norman didn’t even move to the Golden State until midway through his freshman year.
After growing up in Rochester, N.Y. and living in Houston, Texas for a while, Norman moved in with his uncle and aunt in Woodside, a suburb of San Jose. From there, he attended Bellarmine Prep and was on a track for success.
“He came to us as a very skilled athlete, someone who had played a lot of basketball and someone with a lot of potential,” said Patrick Schneider, Norman’s high school coach.
Though Norman had an incredible amount of talent, his style of play and basketball sense were still not quite as developed as the coaching staff desired.
In his early years at Bellarmine Prep, Norman relied heavily on his pure ability to blow by defenders and create scoring opportunities for himself, rather than learning how to get around his opponents, fight off screens and work within the team system.