Norman W. C. Powell (born May 25, 1993) is an American professional basketball player for the Toronto Raptors of the National Basketball Association (NBA). Playing college basketball with the UCLA Bruins, he was an all-conference player in the Pac-12. He was selected in the second round of the 2015 NBA draft.
Powell was a two-time all-state high school player in California and led his team to a state championship before joining UCLA. After entering his senior year in 2014–15 as the Bruins' top returning player, he emerged as a team leader and received first-team All-Pac-12 honors. He was drafted by the Milwaukee Bucks, who subsequently traded his draft rights to Toronto.
Powell was born in San Diego, California, to Sharon and Norman Powell Sr. He was introduced to basketball by his uncle, Raymond Edwards. Powell decided to attend high school at Lincoln High, which had just been rebuilt and lost many athletes. He helped rebuild their basketball program, leading the team to consecutive California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) San Diego Section 2A championships in 2009 and 2010. The team also captured the 2010 CIF Division II Boys' State Championship, with Powell scoring 24 points in a 74–59 win over Mountain View St. Francis. He finished his junior season averaging 19.7 points, 4.9 rebounds, and 2.7 steals, and earned first-team all-state as well as Western League Most Valuable Player (MVP) honors.
In his senior year, he was again first-team all-state and league MVP, and averaged 20.4 points, 3.8 rebounds, 2.4 steals. Lincoln was 32–2 and won the league title with a 12–0 record. They were ranked No. 3 in California and No. 15 nationally, but were defeated 74–69 by Summit in the state semifinals. He finished his high school career winning the San Diego County All Star Game Dunk Contest.
Considered a four-star recruit by ESPN.com, Powell was listed as the No. 15 shooting guard and the No. 52 player in the nation in 2011. Powell chose to play college basketball for UCLA over San Diego State, Arizona and Oregon.
In his first year at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), he was the only true freshman to play significant minutes in 2011–12, when he averaged 17.8 minutes and contributed 4.6 points and 2.2 rebounds in 33 games, joining Tyler Lamb and Lazeric Jones as the only Bruins to play in every game that season. While he excelled as a driving guard in high school, his role transformed at UCLA, taking less than one-fourth of his shots around the rim and close to half from outside on three-point attempts, connecting on 38.5% over the last 18 games.
Powell averaged 6.1 points in 22.1 minutes in 2012–13, making nine starts while playing all 35 games. He began the season as a starter, but was later moved to the bench. His minutes declined from an average of 28.4 in the first seven games to 19 the following 26 games. After replacing injured starter Jordan Adams, Powell's minutes increased to 37 per game. He considered transferring to San Diego State after the season, but decided to stay primarily because UCLA coach Ben Howland was fired. Powell credited Howland for his development on defense, but he stated that "there were a lot of things going on that weren’t fair for me" and "I definitely wanted to see a change." The Bruins hired Steve Alford as their new coach.
In 2013–14, Powell started all 37 games and was third on the team in scoring (11.4). Under Alford, he became an offensive threat and a staunch defender. He was more aggressive taking the ball to the basket, and dunked more than he could in Howland's system. The team's best on-ball defender, Powell was routinely assigned the opponent's best offensive player and earned honorable mention for the Pac-12 Conference All-Defensive Team. UCLA opened the 2014 NCAA Tournament in San Diego, enabling him to play in his hometown for the first time since high school. UCLA advanced to the Sweet 16, and Powell averaged 13.0 points and 2.7 rebounds in three tournament contests. After the season, he considered playing professionally in the National Basketball Association (NBA), and requested an evaluation of his prospects for the upcoming 2014 NBA draft.
Informed that he was unlikely to be drafted, Powell decided to return for his senior year, and became UCLA's top returning player and scorer for 2014–15 after underclassmen Adams, Kyle Anderson and Zach LaVine each declared for the NBA draft, while seniors Travis and David Wear graduated. During the offseason, Powell worked to improve his jump shot. As the season progressed, he grew to be a leader of the team, and increasingly took on more of the offensive load. Although freshman teammate Kevon Looney was seen as a potential NBA lottery pick, Powell became the Bruins' most consistent performer. On March 1, 2015, Powell scored a career-high 28 points in a 72–67 win over Washington State. He averaged 26 points and 5.5 rebounds in two games that week, and was honored with his conference-high third Pac-12 Player of the Week for the season. The Bruins went 2–0, helping them secure an eventual No.4 seed and first-round bye in the 2015 Pac-12 Tournament, and maintaining their hopes of receiving a bid to the NCAA Tournament. At season's end, Powell was voted first-team All-Pac-12, and again received honorable mention for the All-Defensive Team. He was also named first-team all-district by the United States Basketball Writers Association (USBWA), and second-team all-district by the National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC). He finished as the team leader in scoring with 16.4 points per game, the sixth highest in the conference.
Toronto Raptors (2015–present)
On June 25, 2015, Powell was selected with the 46th overall pick in the 2015 NBA draft by the Milwaukee Bucks. His draft rights, along with a 2017 first-round draft pick, were subsequently traded to the Toronto Raptors for Greivis Vásquez. After signing with Toronto on July 15, he played with the Raptors in the 2015 NBA Summer League in Las Vegas, where he was the only rookie to be named to the All-NBA Summer League First Team. Powell received playing time early in 2015–16 due to injuries to Terrence Ross and DeMarre Carroll. He later received multiple assignments to Raptors 905, Toronto's D-League affiliate.
With Carroll out after knee surgery and James Johnson sidelined with a sprained ankle, Powell made his first NBA start on February 2, 2016, going scoreless with two steals in 15 minutes in a 104–97 win over the Phoenix Suns. On March 15, he made his eighth career start and scored a then season-high 17 points in a 107–89 win over the Milwaukee Bucks. He topped that mark on March 28, scoring 18 points in a 119–100 loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder. Two days later, he scored 10 points in a 105–97 win over the Atlanta Hawks, helping the Raptors record a 50-win season for the first time in franchise history. On April 8, with All-Stars DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry resting, Powell set a new season high with 27 points in a 111–98 win over the Indiana Pacers. In the Raptors' regular-season finale, Powell topped that mark again with 30 points in a 103–96 win over the Brooklyn Nets. After averaging an Eastern Conference-leading 15.3 points per game in April, he was named the conference's NBA Rookie of the Month.
Powell played sparingly for the Raptors over the first half of the 2016–17 season. With DeMarre Carroll sitting out back-to-back games early on in the season, Powell received a number of starting assignments. He would rise to the occasion every time he got an opportunity, only to go missing in action for a handful of games before his services were needed again. On December 20, 2016, Powell scored a season-high 21 off the bench in a 116–104 win over the Brooklyn Nets. He had three more 21-point games over the next three months. On April 24, 2017, in Game 5 of the Raptors' first-round playoff series against the Milwaukee Bucks, Powell scored a playoff career-high 25 points to help the Raptors take a 3–2 series lead with a 118–93 win.
NBA career statistics
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|RPG||Rebounds per game||APG||Assists per game||SPG||Steals per game|
|BPG||Blocks per game||PPG||Points per game||Bold||Career high|
The son of Norman Sr. and Sharon Powell, he has two older sisters, Joniece and Margaret. He majored in History.