Moore’s four years: a look at Jalen’s USU career

LOGAN – When six new Aggie freshmen took the Spectrum court for their first college basketball game in November 2013, Utah State had a lot to prove. Not only were the Aggies hosting Pac-12’s Southern Cal, but USU was a new member of the Mountain West Conference.

The only freshman that got any playing time that day was the only freshman that would still be with the team as a senior. Many fans were already familiar with him. He was the son of former USU great Jimmy Moore and had just led Sky View to its first high school basketball championship in decades several months earlier. The onlookers were now anxious to see what the 6-foot-9 local recruit could do in Aggie blue.

Jalen Moore entered the game sporting his signature fro and a plastic mask because of a broken nose suffered in practice sometime before the season. He made two free throws and grabbed two rebounds in the 78-65 victory against the Pac-12 team.

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The two points and two rebounds were the first of many. When he finished his USU career last week at the conference tournament in Las Vegas he had accumulated 1,626 points, which ranks No. 9 all time at the university. He added four rebounds in the final game, putting him at 654 total – surpassing his father and into a tie for the No. 15 spot.

Since joining the Mountain West, USU has not played a game without him. Through Stew Morrill’s exit, former forward David Collette’s sudden departure and an increase in the level of competition, Moore has taken the court for every one of the last 125 games.

He gave the team some consistency during inconsistent and unpredictable years.

“Jalen has been such a constant for four years,” head coach Tim Duryea said. “It will be really strange when next year rolls around and you don’t see his big hair running around. His steadiness at whichever position we’ve played him at has really been the epitome of coming to work each day and gives you steady effort at practice or in a game.”

All that effort came during times with more losses than what Aggie fans were used to, smaller than usual home crowds and lots of roster turnover.

“He’s had some teammates leave on him, walk out on him that probably would have made a difference on his record over the years as an Aggie,” Duryea said, “but he has stayed true blue and hung in there and played with a lot different teammates over the years.”

He led USU with 15.2 points and 6.7 rebounds per game his sophomore year. He finished his junior and senior seasons still on top of both categories.

Nevada’s standout forward Cameron Oliver went head-to-head with Moore during USU’s final game. He said Moore is a talented player that reminds him of Kevin Durant.

“He’s a tough guy to play,” he said. “Kind of hard to play against someone that matches the same athleticism as you. And he’s capable of shooting the ball.”

Nevada coach Eric Musselman had similar praise. He said he thinks he could see Moore at the next level, whether that is the NBA, the D-League or overseas.

“He really is a guy that at the collegiate level is a tough cover,” he said, “and it’s hard to play at the next level, but he certainly has the ability if all things fall into place for him, the right situation, right time and all those type of things.”

Most of Duryea’s praise was directed at the type of person Moore is off the court. He said he knew Moore as an 8-year-old kid coming to USU’s basketball camps. He said guys like him are what college basketball is supposed to be about.

“He has been a phenomenal representative of our program in the airport, on the airplane, in a restaurant,” he said. “People compliment him, us all the time, regarding the kind of representative he is for Utah State, and that doesn’t say anything about scoring a basket or the kind of player he is. We can all see that.”

During his final post-game press conference, the guy who was a constant at USU said the different coaches and players he played with were a blessing.

“It’s just been fun, getting better every year,” he said. “Playing with different players, playing in this conference is fun. Playing against good teams. Playing against good competition every night out.”

He said it went by fast.

“There’s nothing like college basketball,” he said. “It’s been a really fun four years of my life.”

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