J.J. Moore was one of three Pitt players to earn a spot on the All-Freshman team for the Pro-Am league. Lamar Patterson and Talib Zanna, a pair of redshirt freshmen, were the others. In seven games this summer, Moore averaged 16.8 points and 6.3 rebounds a game. He progressed all summer, culminating with a 25-point performance in his summer league finale. He credited his teammates for helping him with his progress.
Moore even saw himself improving, as the league went on, even though it was just seven games.
"I improved on going to the basket, just attacking the basket and getting some fouls, definitely getting some rebounds," Moore said. "Now that we're focusing more on the two, three, four and five for going to the basket, and the one dropping back. I'm just focusing on getting rebounds and creating some fouls."
As far as just being on campus, and being away from home, that is a no-brainer for Moore. Moore initially attended Brentwood High School on Long Island (NY). He transferred to South Kent (CT) Prep for his senior year, where he averaged 29 points and 12 rebounds as a senior. That transition--being away from home for a year, has helped him be away from home now, as a college student.
"Last year, I was at prep school, so it was a good transition, going from high school to prep school," Moore said. "Now, from prep school, it's knowing all the stuff to do in college. Knowing that, I'm doing what I have to do in college."
One of the unique things about Moore, is what he can do with his size. At 6-6, 200, he has the size to be a two, three or four in Pitt's system. His abilities go with that frame. In fact, it's hard to predict where he might end up to start the season. Moore feels the three might be where he starts off. Ironically, he might test the waters the way Gilbert Brown did when he got to Pitt, who also attended South Kent Prep.
"I feel myself as playing a good three, or a solid three," Moore said. "I can also play the two, but that's on and off, and a little bit of four, just like Gil. Gil played a little bit of four last year. I think I can play a little bit of four too."
What's the biggest thing that makes him a good candidate for playing the three, other than his driving ability, his range and his athleticism?
"I guess it's the size," Moore said. "But, if you're mentally strong, the mental toughness, it doesn't matter how tall you are. You can guard a four, a three or a two."
So, if he's looking to play the three, what separates one from playing the two and the three in Pitt's system?
"Both of them (two and three) is the same thing," Moore added. "You have to be able to handle the ball, shoot the ball. That's the best way to put it."
Before the positioning, the question is going to be will these true freshmen see any minutes. They certainly look ready, judging by their performance this past summer. It may not be Big East basketball, but both he and Wright have the mental ability to compete at this level right away. Moore talked a little about this team's depth.
"(The depth) is definitely going to make the team get better," Moore said. "Who's going to compete for minutes? There's no stopping, and nobody has a definite spot. You're always going to have to compete for minutes, no matter what. That's a good thing, because then you're pushing yourself in practice. You're pushing the other players, you're pushing the freshmen, the juniors, the veterans. That's very good."
Moore is looking forward to the upcoming Ireland trip for many reasons. First of all, when asked his impression of Ireland, he gave a different answer from some of the other players. It is clear that he and Wright are very much looking forward to bright futures. Wright said opportunity was the first word that popped into his head. The first thing that pops into Moore's head when he hears the word Ireland?
"Modern," Moore said. "Modern day."
It makes sense, because if Moore is looking to be compete in this modern-day era of Pitt basketball, perhaps a good showing on this Ireland trip will help him.
"It's my first time ever going overseas," Moore said. "I'm going to see how it is, take some tours, play as hard as I can out there. Hopefully, out there will benefit the way I play here, so I can come back and get some minutes."
Bottom line, redshirting isn't an option for Moore. He has his sights set on minutes as a true freshman. With a competitive summer under his belt, he should be mentally prepared to do so by the time regular season practice starts in October.
"Hopefully, I'll be up in the top ten rotation, or top seven rotation," Moore said. "I'm just competing for that rotation, and competing as hard as I can to be in that rotation."