HILLIARD, Ohio -- It all started at the 270 Hoops 2021 Challenge. Keaton Norris entered the event on June 28 without a single offer or any legitimate Division I interest. The Hilliard Bradley guard proceeded to shoot 8-for-8 from the three-point line, scorching the nets and leading his team to an event championship.
That's when things began to heat up and that's where Wright State entered the picture. Offering Norris on July 12, the Raiders let the 5-foot-11 guard know they were for real. It took less than three weeks to lock up his commitment, as Norris informed the Wright State staff on Thursday of his intentions to join the Raiders program.
"It's really been crazy and I'm very thankful for [Zach Fleer] and everyone at 270 Hoops for what you guys have done for me these last couple of months," Norris told 270 Hoops. "I definitely don't think I'd be in the same position right now if it wasn't for that event."
When preparation meets opportunity, great things can happen. For Norris, that two-hour event might have just changed the entire trajectory of his basketball career. With Wright State being his only Division I offer, Norris felt the fit in Beavercreek was too good to pass up.
"I feel like Wright State is the perfect fit for me and I really appreciate how they do things," Norris said. "Yes it was my only offer but at the end of the day, you can only choose one school and I didn't feel like any of the other schools that were interested in me would beat out Wright State."
Going to a program that is coming off a 25-7 season that included a trip to the Horizon League conference title game, Norris is excited to join the winning tradition at Wright State.
"To me, they're a lot like us at Bradley, just the way they do things and how much it matters to them," Norris said. "They have a really good culture at Wright State and that's very important to me. Also just how hard they play and how much they want to win fits my personality on the floor perfectly."
Winning matters most, not only at Hilliard Bradley but in the Norris family. With Keaton's father Brett Norris leading the Jaguar program to 97 wins in the last four years including two district titles, a certain standard has been set both in the program and in the family. That expected level of excellence has helped Keaton evolve into one of the best point guards in the state of Ohio over the course of the last three years.
"I'm truly grateful to be a part of a program as good as Bradley's," Norris said. "It hasn't always been easy playing for a program that demands perfection but I believe that's why we've been so successful. I'm thankful for the opportunity to play for my dad. I truly feel he's an outstanding coach and just being able to be around him every day has made me such a better basketball player."
Basketball runs in the Norris bloodline. While both parents played at the collegiate level and were very successful, Keaton's older brother Braden Norris enters his redshirt sophomore season at Division I Loyola Chicago in the Missouri Valley Conference. Braden had a breakout freshman season in the Horizon League for Oakland during the 2018-19 season. Keaton believes his older brother's success just two years ago led to an increased belief in his own abilities at the next level.
"I think people seeing what [Braden] did his freshman year at his size and just how he played really has helped me in the recruiting process," Norris said. "I definitely wouldn't be in this spot if it wasn't for guys like him and Matt [Allocco] showing me the way and just how I need to go about things to be great."
Coming up in a program that has produced truly elite guards in Braden Norris and Matt Allocco, Keaton Norris is the next in line. While Allocco powered the Jags to a second district title in three years and a spot in the regional title game, COVID-19 ended any chances of Bradley playing for a trip to its first-ever state tournament this past March.
Norris is pained when he thinks of the possibility of missing out on his senior season of basketball, especially with how close the Jags were to making history just four months ago.
"It would mean so much to me to have one more go at a state championship," Norris said. "This past season I 100 percent believed that we would have won the whole thing but one more shot at it with my guys would mean everything and I hope that we can make it happen."
While a 2020-21 high school basketball season may not be a sure thing yet, Norris can rest his laurels on where he will spend the next four years. Going from one program who won 25+ games in 2019-20 to another at the next level is just icing on the cake for a winner like Keaton Norris.