In her debut as a starter for the Miami Dade College Lady Sharks basketball team, sophomore Jaiveonna Norris, who transferred from Western Kentucky University, showed her value.
The 6-foot-1 center scored 30 points and snagged 12 rebounds in the team’s 95-73 win against Hillsborough Community College on Oct. 31. The game catapulted her to NJCAA Division-1 Women’s Basketball Player of the Week honors.
Norris’ strong play has continued. She is is averaging 13.5 points, 10 rebounds per game, and 3.7 blocks (3rd best shot blocker in the country) per game for the Lady Sharks, who are 4-3 this season.
“Jaivee’s character is tremendous,” said Lady Sharks Head Coach, Susan Summons. “She is our 2015 team captain and I will say that I am very proud to have her serve as the captain. Jaiveonna wants to help this team win a state championship. [She is] a dedicated student of the game who wants to excel on, and off, the court.”
Basketball has always been a strong theme in her life. Norris grew up in Chicago Heights, a suburb outside of Chicago, IL. Both of her parents, Ivy and Veolia Norris, were both good athletes..
Norris attributes most of her basketball knowledge to her father, Ivy, who played basketball in high school.
“He pushed me and my sister to play,” said Norris of her father. “He taught me how to shoot in the backyard, and I would always have to go workout with him at the gym, even if I didn’t want to. He pushed me and my sister to play college basketball.”
Norris’ sister, Jailyn, was another inspirational figure in her early life. So much so that she models her playing style after her.
“I always just watched her, how she shot the ball, and how confident she was, so, that’s why I looked up to her when it came to basketball,” Norris said.
Norris had very productive seasons at Homewood-Flossmoor High School in Illinois. She averaged 14 points per game as a sophomore and 16 points per game as a senior.
In the summer before her senior year, Norris received scholarship offers to Florida Atlantic University, Alabama A&M, and Stetson University, but ultimately chose to attend Western Kentucky University.
During the 2014-15 season at WKU, Norris wasn’t exactly fond of her limited playing time. She averaged 11 minutes and 3.3 points per game as a freshman.
“Mentally, I wasn’t ready, and my coaches saw that, so therefore I didn’t receive a good amount of playing time,” Norris said.
Frustrated, Norris transferred after the season to MDC and Summons couldn’t be happier. She has seen Norris raise her level of play on the court.
“She has the potential to be an All-American,” Summons said.
With an expanded role on the Lady Sharks, Norris is determined to once again play among the top competition in the National Collegiate Athletic Association.
“I knew that if I transferred to a junior college, that I would be able to have more offers than I did coming out of high school,”Norris said. “A lot more schools can be able to see what I’m able to do and what I can bring to the table.”