The last time I wrote about Evan Moore, his basketball rating and reputation appeared to have turned a corner. His football recruitment had been solid, with standout offers from Stanford and USC, but his performance in the Double Pump camp appeared to have garnered greater basketball interest. I had seen Evan play previously in two spring events, and thought him a fair player, but frankly did not rate him at a Pac-10 level. My interest was piqued, though, to see if Evan really had turned the corner on the basketball floor this summer. Thus, I made sure to watch him for several games in Vegas at the Big Time.
The answer was a resounding yes! Evan scored in double figures in each game I saw. The first game he hit for 17; the next I saw, he scored 26, including 16 in the first half. He had 12 points in the first half of the fourth and final game I saw him play, but I was unable to get his second half stats. More to the point, it was what he was doing to garner these stats that impressed. He is smaller and does not have the same physical dominance, but I liken Evan to a mini-Mark Madsen. Evan Moore is incredibly efficient and consistent and gaining great position under the basket, and when he receives the ball (with pretty good hands, as you expect from a wide receiver), he converts at a Madsen-esque percentage. Even when he misses, he has that Madsen pogo-stick reflex that cleans up the offensive board quickly for a put-back. Evan also showed a nice touch pass when he draws the double team, and he has a smooth reverse lay-up. What separates Evan at small forward from a Madsen at power forward, other than just size and strength, is his mobility. Evan did produce in great fashion under the basket, but he also showed he could score taking defenders off the dribble, as well as a baseline jumpshot.
Without a doubt, his highlight play I saw of the tournament was a thundering dunk on the receiving end of an alley-oop. The gym just lit up. My eyebrows were raised.
If I had to pick two concerns with his basketball prospects at the Stanford level... 1) It is one thing to dominate in the low post against AAU opponents, but can he play like that against Pa-10 forwards? 2) When I think of Stanford small forwards, I think of guys who can do it inside but more importantly shoot lights out. I saw little to nothing from Evan toward the perimeter. Can he do that? I saw no evidence to say that he can't, but I saw no evidence that said he can.
For more on Evan's progress, I talked with his AAU coach after one of the earlier games. Cardinalmaniacs™ with a good memory will recognize the name of coach Rob Alexander, who also coached Chris Hernandez two years ago for Pump N Run. Rob has been coaching Evan through the entire spring and summer period, so he can better speak to the changes and nuances of Evan's game than I...
The Bootleg: Rob, you've had the
chance to coach Evan through the spring and now most of the summer. Can
you talk about what progress you have seen from now to then, from your coach's
Rob Alexander: Sure. I would say Evan is a blue collar type guy - he works hard. He is continually working on his outside game. He has always been a power guy, but he is working on his face-up game. But he is just relentless. He goes to the boards consistently and does a great job. He plays bigger than he is.
The Bootleg: He looks like he is
playing much better now than he did back in the Easter tournament in
Vegas. Can put your finger on what he is doing better or how he is
achieving this kind of success?
Rob Alexander: In Orange County, you are limited in the number of athletes you can play against. In that tournament in Vegas, plus the one in Fresno and now again here, he has played against more athletic kids. He has learned how to handle the ball, and how to work without the ball - to move and cut, the things you need to do. I think he has really improved by getting that exposure.
The Bootleg: During games, you have
a trademark for calling instructions out and telling guys exactly where to go
to. What are some of those mental elements of the game that you are really
trying to help Evan learn right now?
Rob Alexander: Well, there is a couple things. With Evan, it's more of staying consistent and willing to work without the basketball. He is so used to cutting to the block and posting up; if he doesn't get it, sometimes he gets frustrated. So what I keep trying to work with him on is saying you have to keep on moving - you will get your opportunity, whether you get the ball there on the block or off the rim. One way or another, you have to stay active, and he has really improved with that.
The Bootleg: If you were coaching
Evan for his senior high school season, what blueprint would you lay down for
what he needs to do go get ready for the college and Pac-10 level?
Rob Alexander: He needs to be able to defend a three-man. Obviously he can handle the inside guys a little bit, at 6'7" or 6'8", but he will probably be asked to be able to defend a three-man who is 6'5" or 6'6" too. He has got to be able to work on that. Offensively, I would work on his continually working on his post-up moves, but then also working 15-18 foot face-up jumpers. Coming off picks, facing up and shooting those.
I also talked to Evan in Vegas, including picking up one very important detail for Stanford recruits that I inexcusably overlooked when I last talked with him - academics. Evan says that he carries a 4.4 GPA and has scored a 1120 on his SAT. That score came on his first SAT attempt, with no PSAT prior. He isn't all that satisfied, though, and says that he definitely wants to take the test again in the fall to break 1200. Evan says that he is almost done with his Stanford Admissions application, needing only to write his essays. It is nearly impossible for a basketball recruit to work on a Stanford application in July, with all the nonstop events and travel, but Evan is going to hit the library to concentrate on his essays in August.
My assessment on Evan's timing for his decision, though, is that he still wants an official visit to Stanford during football season, preferably when students are there. He has said he would like to visit in October, which points to the Washington State game on the 12th. My read has been that Evan likes Stanford for both football and basketball more than anyone else, and he wants to get accepted and come to see a gameday atmosphere to confirm and finalize all that Stanford can offer him. I think Stanford has a solid lead here, and can and should close.
But one glance at Evan after one of his games in Vegas proved the old adage: a picture truly is worth a thousand words:
Yeah, that's pretty powerful stuff. Evan and his family were all grins when I saw that.
Moreover, when Mike Montgomery arrived Wednesday to Vegas, which w