#3 / Guard / Washington St. Cougars
This is the latest in our series of WSU basketball player profiles, a new one of which will hit the site every couple of days until the season officially starts on Nov. 13. You can read the other players' profiles here.
Scouting Report: When Reggie Moore made his debut about a year ago, we weren't really sure what we were getting. He had spent a year at a prep school after being released from a letter of intent to Fresno State, but averaged just 11 points and five assists while there. Before he ever took the floor, Moore was most noted for the fact that he was the rarest of species: A WSU basketball player from Seattle. Our modest expectations? That he'd hopefully give some help to Xavier Thames in attempting to fill the void left by Taylor Rochestie, and that he'd perhaps help Ken Bone sell Seattle recruits on WSU.
But as soon as Moore started to play, where he was from quickly took a backseat to what he could do, because it was obvious that Moore was going to have an immediate impact. In fact, for a while last year, Reggie Moore was on track to be the freshman of the year in the Pac-10.
He was a revelation on offense, using a devastating first step to get into the lane, where he displayed the leaping ability and strength to either finish around the rim or draw a foul. When defenders started to wise up, they'd collapse, only to find Moore dishing the ball to an open teammate. He also flashed a good enough 3-point shot to keep defenders honest. From a statistical standpoint, he was one of the nation's leaders in free throw rate while also posting top 200 assist rate. That's a deadly combination for a point guard.
Moore wasn't perfect -- he was prone to lapses on defense, routinely getting beat by his man and demonstrating a near complete inability to understand his rotation responsibilities in the team concept -- but his offense was so good on most nights that he was well into the "net positive" category. The zenith was his first trip to Los Angeles, when he basically beat USC singlehandedly (21 points, six assists, four rebounds), then did everything in his power to carry WSU in a losing effort against UCLA (24 points, 6-of-10 3-pointers).
But as the year went on and the minutes mounted, Moore tired. After playing more than 30 minutes just 10 times in the first 18 games, he played more than 30 in each of the final 13 games -- an average of 34.9. Increasingly relied on Moore as the season slipped away, and Moore was game, but his body wasn't up the challenge. He started taking fewer shots, and when he did shoot, he had eschewed driving into the lane for jumpers. He was drawing fewer fouls, which negated much of his offensive effectiveness. And to top it off, his defense was as bad as ever, often taking him into the "net negative" category. At times, it was debatable whether the team was better with Moore or Thames running the point.
In year two, Moore should be more prepared both physically and mentally for the demands of playing 30-plus minutes a night over the course of 30-plus games. That alone should take care of whatever offensive concerns developed last year on the offensive side of the ball, and if he's marginally improved his 3-point shot (32.2 percent last year), he'll be that much more potent. Besides, with more weapons around him, he shouldn't have to score as much as he did last year.
Where the major question mark remains is on defense. There's no doubt Moore has the physical attributes to be an elite defender -- he's quick and physical. The question is whether he wants to be an elite defender, something that takes a lot of effort. If he does, he could become one of the top point guards in the country.
Best Case Scenario: Moore is indeed ready to handle being the true lead guard. A year older and a year wiser, he's able to stand up to the rigors of playing major minutes. He picks and chooses his spots to be aggressive on offense and uses his innate ability to get into the lane to set up his teammates. He doesn't average 20 points, but that's because he's getting everyone else involved. He posts a season line of 18 points, 6.5 assists and 3.5 rebounds. Even better, the decreased emphasis on scoring gives him the energy to lead Bone's ideal ball-pressure defense. And when it comes to crunch time, he becomes one of the top weapons in the country. All-Pac-10 first team, even mentioned in some All-American conversations.
Worst Case Scenario: Moore hasn't developed much at all -- especially on the defensive side of the ball. He has his flashy moments, but it's pretty much more of the same. He's more or less a net zero at the end of the year. His lack of development is a major reason WSU misses the NCAA Tournament again.
Likely Scenario: Moore is improved. He's not the lockdown defender we all hope he can be, but he at least demonstrates an awareness of what's going on around him when he's on defense. His offensive numbers are better, too -- 15 points, 5 assists, 3 rebounds. All-Pac-10 first team.