Birthdate: October 13, 1988
Birthplace: Dayton, Ohio
High School: Dayton Dunbar (2006)
Colleges: Cleveland State University (2011)
Year Inducted: 2023
For the majority of his basketball playing days, Norris Cole, not coincidentally, has been a major contributor to winning teams.
A Dayton, Ohio, native, the 6-2 Cole was part of a dynamic backcourt at Dayton Dunbar High School as he and Daequan Cook led the Wolverines to consecutive state titles in 2006 and ’07. Still, he figured to pursue playing football in college – that is until Gary Waters lured him to play basketball at Cleveland State. With Cole in the fray, the Vikings immediately reached new heights as a program. As a sophomore, he helped them upset No. 11 Syracuse in CSU’s first-ever road win over a ranked opponent. The Vikings went on to capture the 2009 Horizon League Tournament title, clinch a spot in the NCAA Tournament field and upend Wake Forest as a 13-seed.
Cole also paved the way to a pair of NIT berths during his time in Cleveland and improved steadily every single season, just as he did in high school. He finished his senior campaign with averages of 21.7 points, 5.8 rebounds, 5.3 assists and 2.2 steals per game, highlighted by a 41-point, 20-rebound, nine-assist performance against Youngstown State.
After that season, he became the first player in the history of Horizon League men’s basketball to be named both Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year. He also earned Associated Press All-America Honorable Mention honors, was a finalist for the Wooden Award and a “Final Five” finalist for the Bob Cousy Award. After logging 14.2 ppg in a school-record 140 career games, Cleveland State honored him in 2016 by retiring his No. 30 jersey and sending it to the rafters of the Wolstein Center.
But Cole’s success story didn’t stop in college. The Chicago Bulls selected him in the first round of the 2011 NBA draft and after a series of trades, he ended up in Miami, playing alongside LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh. The Heat won back-to-back NBA championships in 2012 and 2013 with Cole a surprisingly key contributor in his first two NBA seasons. In winning the 2012 crown, he squared off against Cook, his old high school running mate.
Cole was a regular member of the rotation and occasional starter in his five seasons in Miami. He went on to stints with the New Orleans Pelicans, Oklahoma City Thunder and several other professional teams overseas in a lengthy career that is just now winding down. In 2018, he helped Maccabi win the Israeli League Championship, winning yet another ring.
Norris Cole enters the Ohio Basketball Hall of Fame at age 34.