Moore May Open It Up

McKenzie Moore verbally committed to St. Mary's in January of 2010. Now, the '11 combo guard from California is having second thoughts. Iowa, Providence, Memphis and Wake Forest are among a group of schools hoping the talented Moore opens things up.

The sharks are circling, but Mckenzie Moore hasn't jumped back in the water…yet.

"He's technically still committed to St. Mary's College," said the 2011 guard's AAU Coach and mentor Phil Handy. "At this point, he's uncertain if he wants to de-commit and open up his recruiting. And he's got some challenges that we're still dealing with on whether he's going to be academically eligible this year."

Moore would be a hot commodity if he qualified and re-opened his recruitment. Handy said that Iowa, Penn State, Providence, South Carolina, DePaul, Oklahoma State, Wake Forest, Memphis, and TCU are among a large group of schools in pursuit.

"I've been very forthcoming with all of the coaches about where he is with everything and what needs to happen before he can jump in with another situation," Handy said.

Handy said Iowa has come on hard for Moore.

"Iowa definitely has shown a high level of interest in McKenzie," the coach said. "I know they've told him that if he decides to de-commit from St. Mary's that they would offer a scholarship. So, they put that out there on the table.

"I don't know McKenzie's level of interest in Iowa because I haven't had a whole lot of detailed conversations with him outside of St. Mary's."

Moore lives with Handy, who has guided him through the recruiting process for the last three years. The youngster got into trouble when he was 14 and spent time in a juvenile detention center. His mother was hospitalized with diabetes then and he got caught up with the wrong crowd.

"He's completely turned his life around," Handy said. "I think part of that maturation happened when I got involved in his life. His dad was never around. The last five semesters, he's carried a 3.6 (GPA) or better. He got a 26 on his ACT.

"He's put a lot of time into trying develop himself as a basketball player and as a person. He's a completely different kid than he was when he went through those things a few years ago. Even his mom's life is better. Her health is a little better. He is the first kid to graduate high school in his family. They see that there's hope."

Moore has built a strong relationship with St. Mary's Head Coach Randy Bennett, who led the Gaels to the Sweet 16 in '10. That could be what's kept the guard from re-opening his recruitment with BCS programs coming at him hard.

"Just as he verbally committed to them, he needs to verbally de-commit," Handy said. "That's something that he hasn't done yet. I think he's on the fence.

"He had a really good conversation with Coach Bennett (on Monday) and he hasn't opened anything up. I think he wants to go to St. Mary's. At the same time, he's a young kid and those other schools are piquing his interest. It's attention he's not used to getting. I know St. Mary's is still at the top of his list. I also know there are other schools he's interested in."

What does Handy think Moore will do?

"That's a good question," he said. "I'm a very loyal person. When I commit to something, I like to see it through.

"McKenzie is just trying to figure out what's the best thing for him. Part of him thinks he needs to go away so he can kind of grow up and get away from some of the distractions that are here. Then there's a part of him that feels he needs to stay home so he can look out for his mom and she can watch him play."

Moore only played one year of high school basketball and two years of AAU.

"He's been a relatively unknown," Handy said. "St. Mary's saw the kid and Randy Bennett formed a personal relationship with McKenzie. He told him a long time ago that he would take care of him and guide him. He's very comfortable with Coach Bennett."

Before anything can happen for Moore in regards to the upcoming college basketball season, however, he has to make the grade.

"The (NCAA) Clearinghouse has been requesting a lot of different transcripts for the last week," Handy said. "I don't know how long this process takes, but obviously time is of the essence for him. I'm hoping we can have some kind of concrete answer in the next week or so."

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