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Wendell Moore Jr.,12, seems to have a basketball future

By Langston Wertz Jr.
lwertz@charlotteobserver.com
0629youngstarsmoore
T. Ortega Gaines - ogaines@charlotteobserver.com

If you Google the name Wendell Moore Jr., you get YouTube basketball clips (“No. 1 7th-grader in the country?”) and all kinds of stories talking about a 12-year-old Charlottean who appears to have a bright future.

Of the several scouting services that track middle school players nationally, Moore sits in the top five of nearly every one.

Moore, who is nearly 6-foot-4 and weighs 182 pounds, is extremely long armed and won’t be 13 until September. He’s the age of most 7th-graders but is going to the 8th grade in the fall at Harris Road Middle School. Moore can play all five positions. He can handle the ball like a point guard and block shots like a center. His mother, Marie, is 6 feet tall. His father, Wendell Sr., is 6-6.

Doctors project “Junior,” as everyone calls him, to be as tall as 6-9.

In the tight-knit world of high-level youth basketball, Moore has become a household name because of how good he is now and how good he might become.

“Everybody knows who he is,” Marie Moore said. “Wherever we are, they come to us. They just want to meet the parents. The good thing is he’s a humble kid. We’re blessed in that way.”

Junior is always smiling. He made the Honor Roll at school, the same year he led Harris Road Middle to its first unbeaten season. Last summer, he led the Carolina Preps AAU team to a 6th-grade Division I national championship.

Junior’s father played on the Richmond (Va.) Maggie Walker High 1975 state championship team that featured future N.C. State star Clyde “the Glide” Austin, so Wendell Sr. saw early signs that his son might be a talented player. Wendell Sr. coached his son growing up, always playing him against kids sometimes two years older. The two Wendells worked out together often.

Today, Junior has three trainers, plus his dad, who is an assistant coach for Carolina Preps. He works out five or six times per week. He loves Kevin Durant but patterns his game after LeBron James.

“LeBron is more of a facilitator,” Junior said. “I like to be that floor general on the court. Not a point guard, but someone who can play all the positions and have his team have faith in him.”

Wendell Sr. said a few colleges have already made contact with the family, but he doesn’t want things to go too fast.

“Right now,” Wendell Sr. said, “he’s 12 years old, so I don’t try to push him to do anything he doesn’t want to do.”

Listening to Junior talk, it seems he’s got a lot of years of basketball left.

“My favorite college team is Duke,” he said. “I want to go there, but you never know where this will take me. I want to try to make it all the way to the NBA if possible.”

Wertz: 704-617-9716; Twitter: @langstonwertzjr
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