One of the few bright spots in an otherwise bleak high school spring sports season occurred recently with the announcement of the annual Boys and Girls Gatorade Basketball Players of the Year.
Aaliyah Moore was named the girl’s recipient after a stellar junior season. Despite the shortened season, the 6-3 forward averaged 21.9 points and 10.9 rebounds a game while leading the Moore Lady Lions to the their first state championship berth in 22 years.
“It’s unbelievable,” said Moore of the honor. “It’s an awesome feeling that all my hard work paid off.”
“I feel like I was really consistent this year,” added Moore. “It was probably the best year I’ve had, both offensively and defensively. I tried being more of a leader on the team.”
“What separates Aaliyah from other players is her skill level,” claimed Moore head coach Brent Hodges. “She’s a skilled 6-3 player. Her ball handling, her court vision, her decision making. That’s what separates her. And she’s a relentless worker.”
Moore was a member of the 2019 USA Basketball Under-16 Women’s Team that won the gold medal at the FIBA Americas World Championship in Chile.
“It was an experience that I will never forget,” said Moore proudly. “The trials were gruesome. They were a lot of work, mentally and physically. More than 160 kids tried out and only 12 made the team. You always had to be on your ‘A’ game.”
“Chile was beautiful,” added Moore. “The people were so sweet. They treated us like celebrities and the kids wanted our autographs. It was an unbelievable experience.”
Moore is one of the most sought-after players in the country despite having another high school season to play. She has collected more than 40 offers from top-tier college programs and is currently ranked the 7th-best recruit for the Class of 2021 by ESPN.com.
“Recruiting is going great,” stated Moore. “I haven’t made any decisions yet. I haven’t put out any top 10 or top five lists yet or anything like that. I’m just enjoying the process and not taking anything for granted.”
When it does come time to choose a school, Moore’s mom has made it clear that she must contact each school directly and let them know of her decision.
“At first, I didn’t really get it,” admitted Moore. “But she said you never know when you may need one of these coaches to help you get a job. She’s right. I might have to have some tough conversations soon, but it will pay off when I get older. It’s great advice and another example of why I’m lucky to have a mom like her during this process.”
She’s not only a star on the court. Moore also shines in the classroom. She proudly carries a 4.0 GPA and takes her school work very seriously.
“I definitely got that from my mom,” said Moore with a laugh. “She does not play when it comes to grades. She holds me to a high standard and I’m going to pass that along to my kids some day.”
“She’s a mentor to our freshman at our school,” added Hodges. “She comes in before school just to be a part of that program. She helped raise funds for school supplies. You don’t see many 16 or 17-year old kids taking time out to get school supplies for kids they don’t even know.”