Kevin Norris joined the UCF men’s basketball coaching staff in March of 2016 as an assistant coach under head coach Johnny Dawkins.
The Knights went 24-12 in his first season on staff, recording the sixth best turnaround in the nation. With just seven scholarship players due to transfers and injuries, the Knights earned the fourth seed – their highest ever – in the American Athletic Conference Tournament, eventually falling to league champion SMU in the semifinals.
A season full of firsts, UCF hosted its first NIT game in 2016-17, defeating Colorado for the program’s first ever win in an NIT or NCAA Tournament game. The Knights went on to defeat top seeded Illinois State on the road, before coming home to the first ever sell-out crowd at CFE Arena and winning 68-58 over Illinois to earn a spot in the NIT Final Four.
UCF led all of NCAA Division I in defensive field goal percentage in 2016-17, holding opponents to just 36.5 percent from the floor. The Knights were also sixth in the nation, allowing only 61.2 points per game, and gave up 45 or less points in four games over the course of the year.
In year two on staff, the Knights had to deal with significant injuries to three of their best players. Aubrey Dawkins missed the entire season with a shoulder injury, B.J. Taylor missed the first half of the season, and Tacko Fall missed the second half of the year. Taylor and Fall only played one game together.
Through the injuries, the Knights finished with a 19-13 record, second only to the previous season record in the last five years of UCF Basketball. The team also had a number of firsts in year two, including their first win on the road at Memphis and their first road win over a ranked opponent.
And the defense was as good as ever, holding three opponents under 40 points, setting a new program record by holding SMU to just 37 points, and ranking third in the nation with a scoring defense of 61.7 points per game.
A former point guard himself, the UCF backcourt has excelled in Norris’s two seasons with the Knights. B.J. Taylor led the Knights with 17.4 points and 3.5 assists per game in 2016-17 and 15.9 points and 3.2 assists per game in 2017-18. He earned Second Team All-Conference honors from The American. Matt Williams finished his career with every single UCF three-point shooting record, converting 126 threes in 2016-17, the second most in the nation.
Norris came to UCF after a three-year stint as an assistant coach at the University of Southern California. During the 2015-16 season, he helped lead the Trojans to the NCAA Tournament and the program’s first 20-win season since 2009.
Prior to his tenure in Los Angeles, he served as an assistant at Florida Gulf Coast for two seasons. In 2013, Norris helped guide the program to its first NCAA Tournament berth in school history and one of the most historic tournament runs in NCAA history. The 15th-seeded Eagles shocked the nation upsetting No. 2-seed Georgetown and No. 7-seed San Diego State to become the first 15-seed to reach the Sweet Sixteen. FGCU’s “Cinderella Story” ended in the Sweet Sixteen with a loss to No. 3-seed Florida.
Norris began his coaching career at Tallahassee Community College in 2007-08, then spent two seasons (2009-10) as an assistant coach at Texas A&M-Corpus Christi. He then assisted Buzz Peterson at UNC Wilmington during the 2010-11 season.
Norris was a standout point guard at Miami, where he played for then-Hurricanes’ coach Leonard Hamilton. He was a four-year letterwinner (1995-98) and the only player ever to lead Miami in assists for four straight seasons. Norris still holds the UM record for career steals (208), sits second in career assists (493) and ranks fourth in career starts (108). During his senior season in 1998, he helped lead the Hurricanes to their first NCAA Tournament berth since 1960. Norris was also listed on the BIG EAST All-Rookie Team as a freshman.
Following his collegiate career, Norris played professionally overseas in Italy, France and the Czech Republic, as well as in the American Basketball Association (ABA) with the Calgary Drillers.