Anthony Lewis remembers the summer of 1992 well.
The longtime Cecil Kirk coach guided an undersized but feisty starting lineup throughout the summer. It was a roster stocked with future college players, including Lake Clifton's 5-foot-9 point guard, Kevin Norris.
"Kevin was a classic point guard who made so many people around him better," Lewis recalled. "He was relentless out there."
Lewis immediately noticed Norris' defense, leadership and control, all of which led him to believe that his point guard might have a future in coaching.
Today, Norris has proved his former AAU coach right, as he is quickly becoming one of college basketball's hottest young assistant coaches. Last month, he was hired by Buzz Peterson and UNC-Wilmington of the Colonial Athletic Association.
"I wanted to look outside the box a little," Peterson said. "Coach Norris was an exceptional player who will work with our guards and bring individual improvement to drills."
Norris — known as a tenacious recruiter — started his climb up the college coaching ladder in Baltimore after his playing career ended.
A standout point guard at Lake Clifton, Norris led the Lakers to an 18-6 record and the state Class 4A Region II semifinals as a senior. After a season at Maine Central Prep Institute, Norris garnered attention from several Division I college programs before he, Lewis and his mother, Claudette Porter-James, decided on Leonard Hamilton's Miami Hurricanes.
After finishing college, Norris played professionally for several seasons in Italy, France and the Czech Republic.
Norris returned to Baltimore, beginning his coaching career at Thurgood Marshall Middle School and with Cecil Kirk. Soon after, he was hired as an assistant at Lake Clifton. He was attracted to coaching because it was a way for him to give back to high school players in his hometown. Said Norris, "I enjoy helping out young people. I love seeing kids get better."
Following a stint at Tallahassee (Fla.) Community College, where Norris coached Baltimore native Jermaine Dixon, the assistant moved on to Texas A&M Corpus Christi to coach under Perry Clark. Norris credits Clark with shaping him into a complete coach.
"There was no aspect of coaching I didn't cover," Norris said. "Coach Clark wanted me to be more than just the recruiter."
Norris' ability to recruit the Baltimore area, however, didn't go unnoticed. While in Corpus Christi, he signed Terence Jones, who played at Lake Clifton, and Kevin Palmer, a graduate of Parkville who spent two seasons at Cecil Community College. Digital Harbor wing Davon Usher — a first-team All-Metro selection — and Dunbar guard Derrell Edwards — a second-team pick — signed letters of intent to play for the Islanders last fall.
Since Norris' arrival in Wilmington, the Seahawks have already landed their first Baltimore recruit. Former Lake Clifton combo guard Antoine Allen — an All-Metro first-team member in 2008 — transferred to UNC-Wilmington from Miami last month.
"Baltimore has got talented, talented players," Peterson said. "We're very interested in recruiting there."
Norris credits his ability to understand and identify top Baltimore prospects for his recruiting success in the area.
"Baltimore is full of hard-nosed, competitive kids that are hungry," Norris said. "They want to play in college, and they want to make it."
If Norris has his way, expect to see more of Baltimore's top prospects heading down to Wilmington soon.
"I will definitely be there in Baltimore recruiting kids," he said.