Based on quickness, agility, leaping ability or strength, basketball likely wouldn't carry Riley Norris very far. A pedestrian athlete by hoops standards, he frequently takes the court at a physical disadvantage.
And for that reason he was slow to draw high-major attention. What began as a trickle prior to his junior season gradually expanded, however, as he entered the 2012-13 campaign with offers from Arkansas, Ole Miss, UAB, Mercer and Samford.
He enjoyed a big junior year and won scholarship invitations from home-state Alabama, Mississippi State, Auburn and Clemson. By the time the 2013 summer rolled around, he'd clearly identified himself as a regional major conference prospect.
Norris performed well enough in the spring to draw a berth into June's prestigious NBPA Top 100 Camp. There, matched against the nation's best, he proved to be a dynamite long-range shooter and began to draw attention as a potential top-100 prospect.
He attended the Peach State Showcase with Team Thad and further solidified his place among college coaches. He ultimately picked up an offer from Vanderbilt and drew interest from North Carolina as well.
But by early August, Norris was ready to close the show. He had a deep affinity for the Crimson Tide program and pledged to Alabama prior to the beginning of official visit season. The Tide reportedly had pulled their offer, but an unofficial campus visit brought the two sides together and facilitated a commitment.
The section and the one that follows are easy to write. Norris is a specialist: He'll never be a slasher, or a playmaker, or an inside-out scorer. What he'll be is a long-range bomber who will spend four years stretching — and frustrating — defenses. His jump shot is smooth and pure to 22 feet, and his release suggests he'll be able to fire off shots against even intense college close-outs.
He's also savvy about locating open spots on the court, making his and his teammates' job that much easier. His coordination is fine and thus his handling and passing are suitable for wing forward, and therefore over time he should make relatively few mistakes.
Clearly, Norris will encounter some defensive difficulties resulting from his athleticism deficit. He also must get much stronger and become more aggressive to rebound his position effectively. Moreover, he'll need to work hard not to get jammed incessantly on the perimeter, which will require experience and overall maturation.
I like specialists provided they're able to achieve that specialty versus top competition, and I'm optimistic that Norris will figure out how to succeed against SEC-caliber foes. He may struggle early adjusting to the college game, but ultimately he should develop into a fearsome shooter who commands opponents' attention at all times.
Further, he's unlikely to become an early NBA threat, and thus the coaching staff can rest easy knowing they've locked down a potent shooter for a full recruiting cycle.