Kevin Norris joined the UCF men’s basketball coaching staff in March of 2016 as an assistant coach under head coach Johnny Dawkins. He helps oversee the defensive efforts of the team.
With Norris on staff, the Knights have posted a 131-87 record and have enjoyed unprecedented success, including the program’s first at-large berth to the NCAA Tournament and first NCAA Tournament win, a first round victory over VCU in 2019.
The Knights were a nine seed in the tourney, their highest seed in five NCAA Tournament appearances, and defeated the eighth seeded Rams, 73-58 in first-round action. UCF then nearly defeated top overall seed Duke, falling in the final seconds, 77-76.
Late in the 2018-19 season, UCF defeated No. 6/8 Houston to snap the Cougars’ 33-game home win streak, and then took down No. 19/20 Cincinnati in Orlando. It marked the first time UCF had earned multiple victories over ranked opponents in the same season, and the Knights did it in back-to-back games. The Knights’ 23 regular season wins matched a program Division I era record, and the team’s 24 wins overall were the fourth most in school history. UCF also cracked the AP Top 25 poll for the first time since 2011.
A former guard at the University of Miami, Norris helped mentor one of the best backcourts in the nation in 2018-19, as BJ Taylor and Aubrey Dawkins both earned all-conference honors from The American. Taylor earned his first all-conference honor in 2016-17, while shooting guard Matt Williams set UCF and American Athletic Conference records for three-pointers made in a game, in a single season and in a career.
After Norris joined the staff at UCF, the Knights had immediate success, going 24-12 in 2016-17, doubling the team’s win total from the year before. UCF earned a bid to the NIT and made it all the way to the NIT Semifinals in New York City. The Knights led the nation in defensive field-goal percentage, holding opponents to 36.5 percent from the floor, and ranked sixth in scoring defense, allowing just 61.2 points per game.
UCF made another appearance at the NIT during the 2022-23 season, the second with Norris on staff and the third overall postseason appearance in his seven-year tenure. The Knights matched up with the fourth-seeded Florida Gators in the first round of the NIT. The Black and Gold traveled up to Gainesville for the contest and came back with a 67-49 victory. It was the first win in Gainesville in program history. UCF finished the season with a 19-15 record as its run came to an end in the second round of the NIT against top-seeded Oregon. The Knights finished the campaign with a top 50 mark in scoring defense, holding opponents to 65.5 points per game, good enough for a national rank of 47th.
The Knights had some remarkable moments during their 2022-23 run to the NIT. UCF won the Baha Mar Hoops Bahamas Championship by beating Oklahoma State 60-56 in overtime, the program’s first win over a Big 12 opponent, before earning a 57-50 win over Santa Clara in the title game. The Knights earned a double overtime win over Memphis, topping the Tigers 107-104. UCF set the program record for the most three-pointers in a single game in program history, sinking 17 triples against Tulsa in a 96-52 home victory. The Black and Gold went on to set the program’s single-season record for made three-pointers at 295. On the defensive side, the Knights held opponents to just 30.7% from beyond the three-point line, a mark that ranked 29th in the country.
While the team dealt with major injuries in 2017-18, the Knights still managed to achieve a lot. They earned 19 wins, including the program’s first home win over UConn, first road win over Memphis and first win over a ranked opponent in a true road game, defeating No. 24 Alabama.
The COVID-19 pandemic halted the 2019-20 season before the AAC Tournament could get underway, and the Knights finished the year with a record of 16-14. UCF earned wins over rival South Florida, Tulsa, SMU and on the road at Cincinnati for the first time in program history.
Norris helped UCF to a 11-12 overall record for the again COVID-19 affected 2020-21 season, including an 8-10 record in league play. The Knights had one of the most difficult non-conference schedules in the nation, including Oklahoma, Auburn, Michigan and Florida State. UCF defeated Auburn at home and won at 15th-ranked Florida State, the program’s first victory over the Seminoles.
In 2021-22, the Knights posted an 18-12 overall record, including a 9-9 mark in The American. UCF accrued a number of impressive victories on the season, taking down Michigan, Miami, Memphis and Wichita State in the regular season, as well as rival South Florida in the first round of the conference tournament to end the Bulls’ season. Junior Darin Green Jr. was named third team all-conference and freshman Darius Johnson picked up conference all-freshman team accolades.
Norris came to UCF after a three-year stint as an assistant coach at the USC under Andy Enfield. 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 along side Enfield. 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 16 with a loss to No. 3-seed Florida.
Norris began his coaching career at Tallahassee Community College in 2007-08, then spent two seasons (2008-10) 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 to lead Miami in assists for four straight seasons. Norris still holds the Miami 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 in Italy, France and the Czech Republic, as well as in the American Basketball Association (ABA) with the Calgary Drillers.