COLUMBUS, Ohio – Being part of a basketball family isn’t always filled with what Hilliard Bradley men’s basketball coach Brett Norris calls ‘sunshine and rainbows.’
One memory he will always cherish was March 8, 2022, when he along with his wife, Carrie Norris, and three of their children traveled to Indianapolis to cheer on another of their sons, Keaton Norris, a 2021 Bradley graduate.
That night, Keaton helped the Wright State men’s basketball team win the Horizon League championship and earn a ticket to the NCAA tournament two days after his older brother, Braden Norris, a 2018 Bradley graduate, helped the Loyola Chicago men’s team to also qualify for the tournament after winning the Missouri Valley Conference title.
Rewind the clock to two weeks before that, though, and the father and another son, Cade Norris, endured what they could only hope was a bump in the road to better things going forward.
Cade, now a junior, is the latest member of the clan to show off his basketball skills at the prep level and looks to be gaining ground this winter as Bradley has returned to prominence among Central Ohio’s Division I powers. .
However, last winter, Bradley won 12 of his first 15 games only to lose six of his last seven, including a 65-60 loss to No. 24 seed Grove City in the second round of the district tournament to finish. 13-9 overall.
“We had a rough run last year when we got upset in the second round,” Cade said. “(We learned) that you can always be beaten and you have to go to every game and you can’t take any game lightly. I’ve come out better for it.”
Cade is 6-foot-4, which is four inches taller than Keaton and Braden, but he has typically “played with the ball in (his) hands,” as he describes it while running the offense.
He scored 30 points on January 6 during a 63-55 win over the Olentangy Orange, which was the first loss of the season for the Pioneers.
Then, the next day at The Challenge at Pickerington North that featured six games between the OCC and the City League, he finished with 18 points to help the Jaguars edge past Africentric and Xavier-commit Dailyn Swain 48-41.
Cade has offers from Ball State, Illinois State and Wright State.
“In the offseason, a lot was about his body and his engine,” Brett Norris said. “His improved athleticism and motor from him really shone through (against Orange). He is a year older, bigger and stronger and has been a lifelong gym fanatic of his.
“That doesn’t mean he’s going to shoot well every night, but it won’t be for lack of work or lack of confidence. He’s not afraid to loosen up or play aggressively. We publish it quite a lot, so it’s not a traditional point guard.”
Returning to OCC-Central Division action on January 13 against Dublin Coffman, Bradley has won five in a row to improve to 9-3 overall and is 3-1 in the league.
Cade is averaging a team-high 18 points and also leads the Jaguars in rebounds (5.8) and assists (4.3) as a cast that features only one veteran in forward David Heath.
Junior guard Jeb Bischoff hit a program-high seven 3-pointers during a 71-25 win over Groveport and is averaging 10 points, and junior Ian Abrass and sophomore Garrett Sever have also emerged in the backcourt.
“I have to keep playing harder and faster and try to pick up the pace more and more, but (my game has improved),” Cade said. “We have an opportunity to do something in the tournament. We just have to show more consistency and the guys will continue to improve. We’ve had streaks, but we’re starting to get it going. It’s about team success. We only have one senior, but I feel like we’re in a good place.”
The recent run of success is much more in line with what happened for most of the Jaguars’ time under Brett Norris, who is in his ninth season at the helm.
Before going just 4-6 in the OCC-Central last season, Bradley had won five straight league championships.
However, the Jaguars’ best season under Norris might be the one they failed to complete.
With Cade serving as a typical contributing player at forward in his first year and Keaton as one of the leaders in his junior year, the Jaguars defeated Walnut Ridge 59-32 in a regional semifinal on March 11, 2020 to improve to 25. -2.
That game was played before a limited crowd and turned out to be the final contest to be held in central Ohio that season before the remainder of the season was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Braden made the all-freshman team for Oakland in 2018-19, but transferred to Loyola Chicago and sat out the 2019-20 season due to the NCAA transfer rule.
He averaged 8.5 points in his first season with Loyola Chicago, 10.4 last season and is averaging 11.1 points while ranking in the top 10 in the nation in minutes per game.
Keaton, who led the way in 2020-21 when Bradley went 18-5 and reached a regional semifinal, started 13 of Wright State’s first 17 games this winter.
“It’s been amazing to watch my brothers play, and I look up to those two,” Cade said. They are showing me the way. We all love it. We all work very hard. I fell in love (with basketball) early at a young age, so I went ahead and followed in my brothers’ footsteps. I love competing, being part of a team and I love the game.”
Brett, whose father, Dan Norris, was also a high school basketball coach, met his wife when they were both basketball players at St. Francis University in Fort Wayne, Indiana.
He then served as an assistant for one season at Delphos St. John’s before becoming that program’s coach for a 10-year tenure that included taking Division IV state runner-up finishes in 1998 and 2001 and winning the state title in 2002.
After a six-year tenure as Hilliard Darby’s coach that ended in 2011, Brett helped out for one season at Upper Arlington and one season at Capital before becoming Bradley’s coach.
Every season since he’s been with the Jaguars, he’s had at least one of his sons on the team.
And that’s likely to continue for at least a few more years, considering that the Norris’s fourth child, Kypton Norris, is a seventh grader who has already demonstrated advanced abilities for his age according to his father.
“The reality is you have some (challenging) moments (coaching your kids), but (basketball) has been so important to our family and the kids,” Brett said. “As a coach and a father, I’ve gotten better as we’ve gone on. Anyone who says it’s easy is lying to you, especially when you’re competing in something. I tell my oldest son, Braden, I made all the mistakes with him and I’m getting better with Keaton and Cade.”