Hammer Scouts Mario Moore

Golden Hammer watched Mario Moore play for the first time this season Friday night at Hunters Lane, and checks in with observations, statistics, and an unbelievable note on Mario Moore's recruitment.

Mario Moore's Antioch Bears traveled to the opposite side of town Friday night to square off against an equally athletic team at Hunters Lane for a largely forgettable 51 - 37 victory.

Mario's Box Score - - Antioch at Hunters Lane December 7, 2001

Minutes

Points

Assists

Rebounds

Steals

24 of 32

13

6

2

2

FG

3 Point

FT

Turnovers

Blocks

3 of 6 (50%)

0 of 2 (0%)

7 of 8 (88%)

1

0

Before I get to the game itself the scene around and before the game was fairly interesting.  First of all, the atmosphere for the game was non-existent with Antioch having an equal and more vocal cluster of fans a long way from home on a rainy night.  Go out and see some high school basketball.  It is cheap entertainment, and the kids deserve better than what I saw Friday and what I see at other gyms around town.  Secondly, midway through the game Matt Freije, Jason Howlerda, and Scott Hundley arrived to watch and cheer on their future teammate.  Finally, Mario Moore is a very popular guy.  It seemed like everyone in the gym from the opposing team, opposing coaches, referees, to random fans greeted him during his warm-ups.  There were hugs for everyone in sight.  He is a star out there, and knows it.

Moore was very, very loose during warm-ups, loose in a bad way.  He seemed more interested in the music than mentally preparing for the game and I think it showed in his play.  Hunters Lane doubled and even triple teamed him every time he touched the ball, while also using a full-court chaser on him for the entire game.  It resulted in very few touches, and passes on most of his touches.  In this particular game, you could hardly call Moore a point guard, as he was not bringing the ball up court or running the offense on most possessions.  He was more of a decoy for most of the night.   To Mario and Antioch's discredit, they did not exert much effort in being sure he touched the ball.  Mario loafed a bit in the offense, and many times seemed content to let the offense run while he jogged up and down the sideline.  Antioch did not run him off picks or run set plays to get him free.  The majority of the game was essentially four on four basketball, and if you were there to see Mario play, it was frustrating.

On the other hand, when Mario did handle the ball it was, at times, spectacular.  His quickness is undeniable, but his best traits are his court vision and ball handling.  He easily could have ended up with 8 to 10 assists in a limited number of touches, but his teammates were not finishing open jumpers and lay-ups.  Mario is a tremendous passer, and just has the knack for finding the open man whether he is behind him or across the court.  His sense of where he and his teammates are on the court is as good as I have seen.  Mario also teased the crowd with his ball handling ability down the stretch, the only significant amount of time he handled the ball.  Antioch was running clock in the final two minutes, and he put on a show with some of his moves with the ball.  He seemed to come alive in the waning minutes.

Throughout the game, Mario was also very unselfish with the ball.  He did not try to force his shots, though on the high school level that can be a bad thing for such a high-caliber player.  When he did shoot, he got great elevation on his jumper and looked smooth.  He will not be a fabulous shooter, but he will be a good one.

Besides effort in general, another factor limiting his output was foul trouble, which limited his play in the third and fourth quarters.  I can only recall one foul called while he was defending the ball.  The other three stemmed from attempts at help defense and charges (he was successful drawing one charge).  His defensive intensity left something to be desired, and he tended to let his man stray too far away without the ball at times.

In general, the night was a mixed bag.  His athleticism, quickness, and leaping ability are stunning, which was put on display at the buzzer with a tremendous 180 degree jam (much to the delight of his future teammates). However, his lack of intensity probably kept his team from blowing the game out of reach.  Mario will have to be more disciplined on the defensive end.  Both of these things will be among the highest of priorities for Coach Stallings. When they are, the sky is the limit.

Moore: Watershed Recruit?

When Billy Richmond signed with Vanderbilt in 1999, much was made of its significance in the local media.  After all, Vanderbilt had been unable to tap into the talent riches of Memphis since signing Bobby Westbrooks from Carver High School in 1983.  That is a drought of 16 years.  Nearly a generation had passed, and his signing was hailed as a sign of the changing times.

Fast forward to 2001.  Vanderbilt University, its home being Nashville, signs a class heralded by many as top 20 caliber.  The class could be considered amazing, but not solely due to its accolades.  It is amazing because Vanderbilt signed a player unlike any since the late 70's, a player from a Metropolitan Nashville high school, Antioch's Mario Moore. According to my research, not since Charles Davis signed out of McGavock High School in 1977 had Vanderbilt's Men's Basketball program signed a player out of one of Nashville's public schools, a span of an unfathomable 24 years.  During that time Vanderbilt has signed players such as Sam Howard, Drew Maddux, Barry Booker, Kevin Anglin, and Charles Mayes, but each of these players were from either a contiguous county or a local private school.  Vanderbilt's recent record of signing players from the Metro Nashville schools has been dismal.

During that time, the Nashville public schools have produced SEC or even NBA-caliber players such as David Vaughn, Brandon Wharton, Brian Watkins, Ron Slay, Marcus Kinzer, among others.  It seems as though Kevin Stallings is keeping a close eye on nearby talent, and signing high-profile players like Mario Moore might help open doors that have been closed for far too long.

(Note: My research consisted of searching publicly available lists of VU lettermen and speaking with some long-time fans.  Vanderbilt's Media Relations Department failed to respond to inquiries.)


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