It took a while for Jimmy Moore to get out to one of his son’s club games last summer. He had been busy with work, so he didn’t get many chances to see Jalen Moore play until his Utah Pump-N-Run squad went to a tournament in Las Vegas.
He was intrigued to see how his 16-year-old kid fared against a Miami team that had bigger and stronger players. And what he saw surprised him.
Dunks. Blocks. Big-time plays.
“He played above the rim the whole game,” Jimmy Moore said. “I think playing AAU ball last summer against the best players in the country, that was huge for his confidence. He was challenged to play on the same level.”
Since then, Moore, now 17, has accepted that challenge. He’s surged for his Sky View team, averaging about 23 points and 7.6 rebounds per game.
How he does it might say the most about it. He’s a natural wing, but at 6-foot-8, there also are games where he’s one of the forwards for the Bobcats. He’ll have to battle more for rebounds and inside buckets. And then there are the games where his coaches tell him to run point, so he’ll do that, too.
Really, there’s no position Moore can’t — or won’t — play for his team.
“I’ll spend one half of practice with the forwards, and the other half with the guards,” he said. “I don’t really mind. It helps me with everything.”
Moore has sprouted up in the past few years, even if he still is slender as a beanstalk. He was a 6-2 freshman but grew quickly. And since committing to Utah State as a rising junior who barely had any varsity minutes under his belt, his game has grown, too.
He can handle the ball, he can drive, he can outleap his counterparts. His long shots could improve in their consistency, but his stroke is a legitimate weapon.
If the Aggies hadn’t signed him in November, he might’ve been whisked away by a Pac-12 or Mountain West heavy hitter. As it is, Moore is excited to play where his father was a small forward and later an assistant and administrator.
“I think it will be great to play for Stew [Morrill],” Moore said. “He’s a great coach. It’s close to home, so my friends and family can watch me play, and I want to follow in my dad’s footsteps.”
Those footsteps are sizeable ones: Jimmy Moore had 1,164 points and 652 rebounds at Utah State and was a selection to the school’s all-century team. Those are fairly gaudy numbers for any entering Aggie.
The coaching staff at Utah State has said Moore needs to work on his rebounding, defense and toughness. Weight and strength couldn’t hurt, either.
But from a father’s perspective, Jimmy Moore wants his son to be his own man. It’s something he’s always told both his sons, Grayson, 19, and Jalen.
“It’s more rewarding to see them grow up as young men than as basketball players,” he said. “I would like to see Jalen get a quality education. Basketball will take care of itself. If it takes you anywhere beyond college, that’s a bonus.”
For himself, Jalen Moore wants to win. He remembers the pain of losing last season in the first round against Skyline, the disappointment of a talented team folding early.
As a senior, Moore is taking that pain to heart. He’s working to make sure it doesn’t happen again. And any team that has to take him on in the Class 4A playoffs will have a lot to handle.
“After all those guys left last year, I knew I had to step my game up,” he said. “I wanted to get ready so I could be a team leader and make sure we can win next time.”