By GARY STALLARD
When first-year Angelina College men’s basketball head coach Nick Wade assumed control of the team last summer, he did so knowing he would have but one returning starter to help him kick off his first season.
That one player was the one guy Wade needed.
Kevin Norman, a sophomore from Alexandria, Louisiana, on Monday was named to the NJCAA’s Division I Third Team All-American list.
A 6’4” guard with all-around basketball skills, Norman helped lead the Roadrunners to an 18-14 record, a second-place finish in the Region XIV South Zone and an appearance in the conference tournament quarterfinals. Norman averaged 19.2 points, 7.2 rebounds and 1.6 assists per game, and he converted 34.6 percent of his three-point attempts. Norman posted a season-high 40 points against Lone Star College-Tomball in December and hit six three pointers in a March game against Lee College.
Wade said the award is a much-deserved one considering the amount of work Norman put in throughout his two-year as a Roadrunner.
“It was so incredible to watch his growth and maturation this year,” Wade said. “Last year, like all freshman, he went through a learning process. With the new staff this year, you could tell he felt comfortable, that he knew we had his back. He really tried to be the best version of himself every day, and that was important.
“He didn’t earn this award from anything we did as coaches. This was a lot of hard work on his part. This is his teammates lifting him up and looking out for him while taking his lead. When I see him named All-American, it’s emotional for me because of all the work he did.”
Wade said he noticed a change in Norman late last year – an off-the-court change leading to a better overall product on the floor.
“The truth is when I saw him taking ownership in the classroom, and when he really pushed hard for his grades, he became a totally different person,” Wade said. “He understood where he’s trying to go, and he began growing more off the court.
“That kid came to work every day. We were 8-12 at one point and on a losing streak, and any kid could have given up and gone into ‘Me’ mode, but that’s not who Kevin is. He’s a selfless player, a team player.”
Another change in the typically reserved Norman came about as the 2018-2019 campaign began. As the only returning starter from the previous year’s squad, Norman learned quickly the leadership skills necessary to help guide his teammates to success.
“It wasn’t really his role to be that person last season, but this year he kind of owned it,” Wade said. “He had to be groomed for it a little, and he’s still learning how to be the best leader he can be. But there was definitely a shift in his coming out of a shell, so to speak.
“He’s done a tremendous job in setting up the foundation for our younger guys, showing them this is what it’s going to take to compete at this level and achieve what we want. I’m excited to see our freshman from this year as they follow his lead into next season.
“Kevin’s contributions and this recognition are things I believe will help our program heading into the future.”
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