As a freshman last season, Wendell Moore Jr. averaged 17 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists for Cox Mill, leading the Chargers to an N.C. 3A Elite 8 playoff basketball berth.
With his sophomore season about to start, Moore weighs 205 pounds, 15 pounds heavier than he was last season. Coach Jody Barbee said his 6-foot-5 star has gotten better in every phase of the game.
“When he walked in as a freshman,” Barbee said, “we knew he was good, but with the things he’s done with his personal trainer and with us, he’s leaps and bounds better than last year. He shoots the ball better. His command and communication is 10 times better. And as hard as he works, he’s only going to get better and excel.”
Moore, 15, said he has nine college scholarship offers - from Charlotte, Florida, Georgia, N.C. State, North Carolina, Syrcause, Tennessee, Virginia Tech and Wake Forest. He’s ranked as high as No. 8 in the recruiting class of 2019 and is considered the top sophomore recruit in North Carolina.
Since he was in middle school, dominating with his size and ability to play multiple positions, Moore was pegged for stardom by recruiting analsyts. In September, he participated in the USA Basketball Junior National team’s mini-camp in Colorado with some of the nation’s top players.
“Wendell Moore is tough,” said Concord Robinson coach Lavar Batts, whose team beat Cox Mill in the playoffs last season en route to a state title. “He’s a great kid. He works hard and he’s gotten a lot better, a lot stronger. He will have a big leadership role over there at Cox Mill this year.”
National recruiting analyst Paul Biancardi of ESPN has marveled at Moore’s game for years.
“He’s got excellent athletic ability and he’s a terrific driver-finisher, and he plays the game with good energy,” Biancardi said. “He’s a guy who is one of the better players (nationally) in his class of 2019.”
Moore, a straight-A student, said he’s happy his hard work is paying off.
“This is basically all I’ve been dreaming of,” he said. “I’ve been working at this since I was 3 or 4 years old, going to the gym every day to be able to get to this point, and I still have much more to work on.”
Moore said he improved his body this summer by eating more home-cooked meals, incorporating three daily protein shakes, devoting himself to the weight room and kicking an addiction to fast foods’ Cook Out and Chick-Fil-A. He’s also expanded his game, moving from just small forward to a multi-dimensional player who can play every position but center.
“The added size makes me more difficult to defend,” he said. “I can use my size and strength to get by people and defend people. I see myself as stronger than most guys I play against, and I use that to my advantage.
“And I don’t define myself as a single position. I see myself as a versatile player. I can play (both guard positions and both forward positions). I’m really good at playing point guard. I can get my teammates involved. At the (shooting guard), I can score, and I can defend four positions.”
Barbee believes Moore’s future is extremely bright.
“He’s going to be elite,” Barbee said. “I see him playing at the highest level (of college), and when all is said and done he could be a really good pro. His skill set is undeniable. He’s so unselfish. He sees the game so much better than people his age and some college guys. His feel for the game is just incredible.”
Wertz: 704-358-5133; Twitter: @langstonwertzjr
The Top 25s
Observer-area players ranked among the top 25 nationally in one of the more recognized national rankings. Rivals ranks Cox Mill’s Wendell Moore 45th nationally. Another site, Future150, ranks him eighth.
Fayetteville Trinity Christian
Gray Collegiate (SC)
Gray Collegiate Academy (SC)
High Point Wesleyan