As an assistant basketball coach at Utah State in the late-1960s, Dale Brown made a trip to Mississippi to take a look at what one rating service said was the second-best high school player in the state.
His name was Jimmy Moore.
Brown, a North Dakota native who would become the head coach at Louisiana State within two years, didn’t care for the systemic racism he discovered in Mississippi, but he knew right away what he’d found in Jimmy.
Years later he told a reporter of his first impression of Jimmy Moore.
“There was just a sensitivity, a gentleness, an honesty about him,” Brown said. “I knew he was going to be a success.”
That was 1970.
Not too long after Brown and fellow USU assistant coach Dutch Belnap concluded several visits to Leakesville, Moore’s hometown, Jimmy turned down Mississippi State, Maryland and Nebraska and committed to Utah State.
“In my recruiting trips to five schools, Utah State’s were the only coaches that talked to me about academics. That stuck with me.”
Saturday, June 30th, nearly 50 years since making his life changing move to Logan, Jimmy Moore will retire after 30 years as an employee at the school.
In the interim, his Aggie playing career earned him a spot on the school’s all-century team; five years ago he was inducted into the USU athletics Hall of Fame; he played professionally for 10 years in Europe; he became an Aggie assistant basketball coach; and, served in administrative positions on campus in admissions, student services and, finally, the last seven years, in athletics.
He said one man made it possible for him to find a place back at Utah State after he played internationally.
“My junior and senior years at Utah State, Rod Tueller was an assistant coach. I built a strong bond with him during that time.
Later he became the head coach and he’s the one that gave me the chance to come back to Utah State as his assistant coach. I want to thank him for giving me that chance.”
His explanation for his retirement: the time is right.
“Debra and I have been blessed to be here and watch both of our sons not only graduate from Utah State but also play on the men’s basketball team. Now they’re both living their lives and starting into their young careers so I felt the time was right to pursue some other things I have in mind.”
Jimmy was the sixth man on the Aggie varsity his sophomore year, until mid-season when he became a starter for the last two and a half years of his Aggie career.
“When Rich Haws and I were juniors we felt like it became our team,” he said. “We had a good junior year and a fantastic senior year when we made it into the NCAA tournament, as an independent.”
That 1974-75 team won 13 straight games late in the year to boost their chances for a post-season bid.
He was probably never better than against Wyoming as a senior in the Spectrum when he scored 40 points, in the middle of the winning streak.
“It was just one of those incredible nights when everything you threw near the basket seemed to go in, my teammates were looking for me, they were excited for me. That is a great memory.”
Jimmy must have felt it all came full circle in recent years when he and Debra sat in his beloved Spectrum and watched their sons play for the Aggies.
“It was the first night both Jalen and Grayson both started for the Aggies. Debra looked at me and I had tears in my eyes. Just being an Aggie and watching them have their time and that experience. Just great memories.”