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Central Florida hires away USC basketball assistant Kevin Norris

USC basketball loses assistant coach Kevin Norris to Johnny Dawkins at UCF.

Kevin Norris was there with Andy Enfield from the beginning at Florida Gulf Coast. He became the final piece of Enfield's coaching puzzle at USC after hiring Tony Bland and Jason Hart.

With Bland and Hart providing Southern California ties, Enfield decided to bring along one of his trusted assistants from his brief stint at Florida Gulf Coast. Norris left behind his family and connections on the Eastern seaboard and in Florida to help Enfield get the USC program off the mat. 

Now that they have accomplished that, Norris is heading home to the East Coast. UCF announced on Wednesday that Norris would be the first hire of new head coach Johnny Dawkins. A chance to return to the East Coast and his Florida basketball roots proved to be too much for Norris to pass up. The fiery assistant leaves USC after three seasons.

Dawkins took over the Knights after being fired from Stanford earlier this month. At Stanford, Dawkins got an opportunity to see the work of Norris up close when the Cardinal played against USC. He liked what he saw. Much as Enfield did getting the local connections with Bland and Hart, Dawkins grabs a coach that knows Florida well.

A Baltimore native, Norris went to school at Miami where he helped the Hurricanes end a 37-year NCAA tournament drought in 1998. He is the only player to lead Miami in assists four straight seasons and he still holds the school record for career steals (208).

Following a professional career that saw him play in Italy, France, the Czech Republic and in the American Basketball Association with the Calgary Drillers, Norris began coaching at Tallahassee Community College in 2007-08. He spent two seasons at Texas A&M-Corpus Christi and a year at UNC-Wilmington before Enfield hired him to join the building project that was Florida Gulf Coast. Enfield and Norris are connected by Leonard Hamilton, who Norris played for at Miami and Enfield coached under at Florida State.

"Kevin brings a lot of experience to our program, both as player and coach," Dawkins said in a statement released by the school. "He had an accomplished career as a student-athlete, played professionally for a number of years and since has made his mark as a coach, specifically at Florida Gulf Coast and USC. We are excited and fortunate to have a coach like Kevin, who has so much success in the state of Florida, join our staff."

With Norris' departure and the transfers of Miami-native Malik Martin and Darion Clark, who is originally from the metro Atlanta area before a brief stint at Charlotte, Enfield is the only person remaining on the USC roster from the East Coast.

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