The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

January 30, 2014

Despite team's struggles, Moore keeps high aspirations

By Ryan Costello, Staff Writer
Enid News and Eagle

ENID, Okla. — Among all the glitz and flash of Enid’s 2014 basketball homecoming ceremony earlier this month, one short bio managed to stick out.

As each member of the homecoming court was introduced, they walked out to short synopses about them read aloud.

“His hobbies are ... She hopes one day to …”

Most sounded similar — sports, hanging out with friends, going to college to be an athletic trainer or coach. Then there was Marcus Moore’s, namely his hope to continue playing basketball, one day “going pro.”

He knows that’s setting the bar high — for many of the Plainsmen, getting college teams’ attention is a challenge, not necessarily due to a dearth in talent, but more thanks to the team’s 2-14 record — but he’s not ashamed to admit he put it there.

Even if he’s not expected to reach it.

Moore isn’t smallish. He’s small. But the stout, tight-handling guard, listed perhaps generously at 5-foot-8, can get to the basket almost at will if covered by a lone defender. So when Enid coach Ryan Wilkinson explained to the incoming senior his role would be shifted in his final season, from an offensive sparkplug off the bench to the team’s primary distributor, Moore was perplexed, but willing.

“He understood,” said Wilkinson, who entered 2013-14 in need of replacements for the Plainsmen’s previous identical twin point guard rotation of Deon and Keon Parker. “It’s a lot of responsibility. You’re calling plays, you have to think the game more, you’re kind of the leader out there. That’s something he took on.”

“Took on” turned out to be exactly the right phrase. Not just because Moore was up to the task, but because the scale of the undertaking, transforming the scorer to a passer, and more importantly, making an introverted junior a traffic-directing, energy-infusing senior leader.

“It was crazy a little bit,” Moore said. “I’m just used to, like, being quiet, being one of those out-of-nowhere guys. Now I’m talking, I have to lead my team, tell them where to go and stuff. It’s a lot to do, but I’m getting used to it.”

And despite the Plainsmen’s struggles, it’s showed.

Moore leads the team in assists with four per game despite Enid’s 34-percent team shooting clip, is second at 40-percent shooting from the field, third in scoring with 6.2 points per game and tops in steals at 1.2. Those per-game totals include outings of seven, eight and nine assists, all of them coming in the last six contests.

“Honestly, I just took (the transition to passer) as a goal to accomplish,” Moore said. “When they give me a goal to do, I go as hard as possible to achieve that.”

In working on his current one — shifting from baller to ball-mover — Moore may have taken a step toward his next one. The senior said he’ll spend part of his next two weekends exhibiting some of his recent strides at workouts for coaches at Northeastern State University in Tahlequah.

As for that “going pro” part, things haven’t changed in the two weeks since homecoming. It’s still part of the plan, Moore reiterated on Friday, even if that means playing overseas after college.

Wilkinson thinks the senior is up to it. He would know; when Wilkinson played college baseball, he had to go 10 hours away from his hometown in Aurelia, Iowa, to find his ideal situation at Southern Nazarene University, where he spent four seasons as a second baseman and outfielder.

“Part of (playing at higher levels) is continuing to improve,” Wilkinson said. “There are a lot of places out there for people to play, but sometimes it’s where you're willing to go and what you’re willing to do to get there. There are a lot of opportunities out there, it's just digging them out, and that sometimes can be daunting."

Consider Moore undaunted.

“Whatever I gotta do to go to college and play basketball, and whatever I gotta do to go farther than just play college basketball, I’ll do it,” he said.

The Plainsmen and 16th-ranked Pacers (11-5) travel to Ponca City today. The teams earned their only sweep of the season when the Wildcats and Lady Cats visited the Enid Event Center on Jan. 17. The Pacers won 52-30, followed by a 56-38 Plainsmen win in the nightcap.