Logan • Tuesday’s practice saw freshman Jalen Moore taking a few more lumps than usual.
A stray elbow caught him in the nose, causing it to bleed. But even taking a shot to the face couldn’t wipe a smile off of it as he talked about his first few months with the Aggies.
Utah State vs. Adams StateExhibitionFriday, 7 p.m.
"We’ve got to step up our defense, but it’s been awesome," he said. "I love playing for the coaches and everything. It’s fun."
The long-limbed 6-foot-7 teenager topped by a woolly afro is expected to be one of the early impact newcomers for Utah State. The high stakes stem all the way back to when he committed to the program before his junior year in high school.
It’s been easy for the Aggies to keep tabs on Moore, who grew up locally and was a star at Sky View high school. The son of Aggie great Jimmy Moore, it was hard to deny the magnetic pull the hometown school had on him.
Of course, being a local and a legacy player didn’t make those first few sessions with his new team any easier.
"Yeah, it’s a lot different than high school, for sure," Moore said. "The first couple practices I was kind of amazed, but I caught on. I know what to do now. I’ve gained weight. I like it. It’s more intense, which is better. The physicality is good."
Now, Moore is playing the two forward spots for the Aggies. And if Friday’s scrimmage was any indication — 10 points, three rebounds, two steals, and few crowd-pleasing dunks — he’s well on the way to establishing an important role as a rookie.
The coaching staff wants him to work more on his defense and rebounding, something Moore said he’s taking very seriously. Although learning one position in Stew Morrill’s offense is hard enough, much less two, he’s up for it.
"High school I was all over," he said. "I know what to do when I’m out there, but it’s more intense. I like playing both. I’m just trying to work on the different types of defenses and offenses, but I’m learning both of them."
Roland looking to start hot
Senior point guard TeNale Roland will be the first to acknowledge it took him a while to grasp Utah State’s offense.
The Aggies brought him in to compete for the starting job, which he ended up ceding to Marcel Davis, and he struggled early on to contribute consistently.
But it’s hard to argue with how he finished last season: In his last 11 games, Roland averaged 9.6 points, 3.5 rebounds and 1.8 assists per contest. And the 6-foot point guard is looking for that level of play out of the gate this time.
"It took me a while to get comfortable with all the offenses that we learned last year," he said. "But I’ve got a year under my belt, so now I feel comfortable. I’m used to things and I’m ready."
Roland said he’s gained weight since last season ended, and he’s still working on creating plays and shooting with accuracy. After hitting a 36.4-percent clip from beyond the arc last year, he’d like to up that average.
Morrill said last week that the exhibition lineup meant little for the actual season, but Roland was the first point guard on the floor against Central Methodist. Whether he starts or not, he simply wants to thrive in his last year of college hoops.
"[Davis and I] both got different games that we bring to the team," he said. "We’re each trying to bring our games to the team and help us win."
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