Gee-Force: Jayson Gee Q + A
Former coach of former NBA vet Gary Trent and Miami Heat rookie Norris Cole speaks.
SLAM: What do you think distinguishes Norris from all of the other NBA rookies in his draft class?
JG: This may sound corny, but [all of] Norris’ whole life he has benefited from being the underdog. It’s as if God designed adversity to program Norris into greatness. From not being one of the high profile players in HS, to being under-recruited. Then not starting as a freshman and now being one of the most under-the-radar kids in the first round of the NBA Draft. His humility level is so high. He has no sense of entitlement that the more higher profile players have and he uses that edge to his advantage. He has an unparallelled work ethic, he’s extremely disciplined, has faith, obedience and submits to authority. These qualities allow him to excel and to improve at a rapid rate.
SLAM: How do you think that Norris will fit in with the Miami Heat? With there being some duplication of skills with LeBron James and Dwyane Wade, and Mario Chalmers not always being the steady starter, how do you think he will fit with the South Beach crew?
JG: Norris will be a great fit for the Heat. He is the consummate team player. I expect him to have a role similar to JJ Barea (of the Dallas Mavs) for Miami. He will accept his role and be a great on-the-ball defender, keeping other PGs out of the paint. I expect him to come off the bench and contribute 10-20 minutes per game. From there, the sky is the limit for him. I guarantee you he will COMPETE, have CHARACTER, and be COACHABLE. With LeBron and Wade, it will be foolish to say Norris will be a major factor, however Norris is the kind of player that, when added to that level of talent, helps a team win a championship.
He has worked out with LeBron on a few occasions and word got back to us that LeBron was impressed with Norris. Our managers followed the tweets of some players and “witnesses” were very complimentary of Norris on both ends of the court.
SLAM: While we’re talking about the NBA and players’ careers, what’s your personal opinion on the career of Gary Trent? Do you think that Gary did all that he was capable of doing while played in the League? Was he perhaps underrated at all or did he do exactly what you think he was going to do?
JG: Gary had a very good career in the NBA. Anyone who qualifies for an NBA pension can say they survived at the highest level for an extended amount of time. More specifically, Gary could never get that big contract! He started off and on while in Dallas, played a significant role in Minnesota, but could never get a team to fully commit to him by giving him a long-term deal. He was the consummate player coming off the bench during most of his career and could be counted upon for close to a double-double on any given night. Gary concluded his career overseas (in my opinion) over the frustration of just being on “a team” in the NBA. He wanted someone to believe in him, count on him as a go-to player, and compensate him accordingly. He found that playing in Italy before succumbing to a career-ending back injury.
SLAM: Back to Cleveland State—where does the team go after the Norris Cole departure, and what are the team’s expectations for the upcoming ’11-12 NCAA season?
JG: Cleveland State will continue to be competitive in the Horizon League, as well as nationally. Norris has certainly improved our brand and assisted us in securing our best recruiting class to date, with our 2011 class. The cupboard is not bare! We return three potential all-conference players and a freshman (according to several publications) who is the favorite to win the Freshman of the Year in our league. Norris was our only starter we lost and strangely enough we still return five starters! Our second-best player D’Aundray Brown was injured last season and will return this year as a fifth-year player; to date he is the only player we have had who started as a freshman. He is an outstanding player. We also return Trevon Harmon and Jeremy Montgomery, two guards who have a chance to leave CSU with scoring over 1,500 points for their careers. Also we return our starting center Aaron Pouge, who is a former HS teammate of Norris and was a top 50 player coming out of HS. This team is by far the most talented we have had in our 6 years here…GREAT EXPECTATIONS! We expect a championship and a return to the NCAA Tourney!
SLAM: Any up-and-coming newcomers of note that will be suiting up in the green and white for 2012?
JG: We have two newcomers with a chance to be in the starting lineup. Charles Lee, a 5-7 PG, is simply amazing. He’s a great defender and a “point guard deluxe.” He runs the team and is a Steve Nash-type of floor general. Antony Grady is a 6-8 PF that had a state tournament record 27 rebounds in the state semi-finals in Ohio. He was named Division III Player of the Year in Ohio and is the Sporting News Pre-season pick for Horizon League Freshman of the Year. They both have high basketball IQs and are hard workers. They’ve already earned the respect of the upperclassmen. Keep your eyes open for them this year. Also, YouTube Ike Nwamu—his highlights are self-explanatory!
SLAM: Excellent, it sounds like State will be ready to compete for a league championship very soon. This last one goes to you, specifically. You’ve had successful stints at various NCAA programs in multiple divisions; you coached and scouted NBA talent in the high school and college ranks in your two-decade run as a coach—do you ever think about NBA pine or is Cleveland State a place you look to stay for years to come?
JG: I have no desire to coach in the NBA! Most coaches in college feel the same way I do, because of the lack of control over the players, etc. I believe the college coaches who have jumped were motivated by the money and quickly returned.
I am content at Cleveland State with the promising future it has, and more importantly working with Godly men on a daily basis is special. I do have a calling to lead a program again, this time one at the DI level. I believe it will happen in God’s time. I have been close on a number of occasions and this goal is at the forefront of my vision. I am enjoying serving Gary Waters and Cleveland State University at this time, but look forward to someday running a program.
Sandy Dover is a published author, independent media & fitness consultant, and a SLAM web columnist & print contributor whose work has been featured and published by US News, Yahoo!, Robert Atwan’s “America Now” and ESPN. Sandy can be found frequently here at SLAMonline and via his website About.Me/SandyDover, and can reached at email@example.com.