Norvell Ready for Next Steps

Simeon's Zack Norvell showed noticeable improvement this past year. He talks about the work he put in and his expectations moving forward.

For Simeon junior Zack Norvell, having predecessors like Jabari Parker, Kendall Pollard, Kendrick Nunn, Jaylon Tate, Russell Woods, and several others has made him hungry to win. But players like those listed have also taught him what it takes to be successful and battle for wins.

"Those guys taught us how to be prepared and how to handle the process and the journey,” Norvell said. "They taught us a lot along the way.”

Now with more responsibility than in years past, Norvell is embracing his role and is playing with more confidence and a hint of swagger. Part of that is due to him being more assertive.

"My confidence is through the roof right now,” he said. "Coach Rob is putting the ball in my hands and just telling me to be aggressive and to play."

At first glance, Norvell has noticeably gotten stronger and improved his body since last year. That added strength and athleticism has allowed him to expand his game, and he is doing his best to debunk the stereotype of him being only a shooter.

"It helps me a lot being able to take more contact and be more flexible,” Norvell said. "Plus I can play a whole game and not get as tired."

He continued, "Since I’ve gotten more physical, I think I’ve been able to attack more and switch up my game a bit more. I can be a triple threat."

As a result, Norvell has been scoring from the field more often. But what might be most telling about his physical improvement is how often he is now getting to the free throw line.

"It helps a lot being able to see the ball go through,” Norvell said. "I want to keep attacking."

Illinois, taking note of his improvement, offered Norvell a couple of months ago. Since the offer took place, the relationship with the coaches has grown, and Norvell has also spent more time seeing former teammates and good friends currently on the roster.

"(The relationship) has grown a lot (since the offer),” he said. "I’m always going down there and visiting my friends Jaylon Tate and Kendrick Nunn. For them to give me an offer is big for me. I’m thinking about it big time."

Illinois is not the only school in hot pursuit of the 2016 shooting guard right now. He has heard from schools in every corner of the nation and is sure to pick up more interest this spring.

"Everybody’s been in contact right now,” Norvell said. "I’m hearing from Florida, Kansas State, New Mexico, New Mexico State, Gonzaga, and that’s about it right now."

Having division one coaches around Simeon is commonplace anymore. And with guidance from his coaches and from former teammates who have experienced the process, Norvell is handling the recruiting side of things in stride.

"It’s been good being able to take it all in and not get overwhelmed and be a kid,” he said. "I still live my life. I know at the end of the day I’ll make a choice that will be right for my family, where I can grow and be a better man at the next level."

His former teammates now at Illinois have provided him guidance the whole way and have been helping him mentally prepare for the rigors of the next level of his career.

"We have basic conversations about college life and the grind it is,” Norvell said. "They tell me about the non-stop work ethic you gotta have."

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