Villanova Recruit Justin Moore Eager to Put Injuries Behind Him
Justin Moore may be a latecomer to USA Basketball, but he’s coming in with a passion.
Moore, who was selected as one of the dozen high school seniors to represent the United States in the 22nd annual Nike Hoop Summit on Friday, April 12 at the Moda Center in Portland, Oregon (Tickets), knows he’s making up for lost time.
As a sophomore at DeMatha Catholic High School in Hyattsville, Maryland, the 6-foot-4, 200-pound shooting guard tore the ACL in his left knee.
“I went to dunk over two people, and I landed wrong,” he remembered. “I got my surgery right away, but the rehab was a long process. I got tired. There was a lot to it, but I wanted to play again and sitting out like that helped me want to play more.
“I’ve never sat out that long and I really missed playing the game. I remember how that felt and now try to go out and play as hard as a I can every time out. The one thing I learned from rehab is trusting in the process, knowing that God had a plan, and really, it helped me want to play even more.”
Moore came back with a vengeance from that disappointing injury, leading DeMatha to the Maryland state title as a junior while averaging 16.6 points per game.
He said his mom, Keli, and dad, Greg, supported him the whole time he battled through rehabilitation and worked his way back into playing contention.
“I really just want to make my family proud,” Moore said. “It was hard to stay positive during my injury, but they stuck by me. I had great family, great coaches and a great athletic director stand by me the whole time.”
Moore can play any guard spot and possesses a deadly jump shot from beyond the three-point line. He’s smart off the dribble and has good vision to create plays for his teammates and himself.
Last summer, Moore signed his letter of intent to play at Villanova University, where he will join Nike Hoop Summit teammate Jeremiah Robinson-Earl next season.
“I like the coaching staff, a lot,” he said, something echoed by Robinson-Earl. “They’re like family. They care about you on the court and off the court. I feel like I can play and contribute right away. And the fans are very good.”
Moore is going to tread slowly about declaring a major, but he said making his college decision over the summer allowed him to go full bore for his senior season of high school basketball. He’s most looking forward to getting to know different people while at Villanova and building lasting relationships.
“Justin is a winner and to see him going to a program of Villanova’s caliber and to play for a coach like Jay Wright, could not be more proud and happy for him,” DeMatha coach Mike Jones told the Washington Post after Moore verbally committed to Villanova last May. “He brings a winning mentality and an elite ability to score and defend. His ability to come off of his injury and to be so effective on the court was truly remarkable. There just aren’t many guards like him in high school basketball.”
That competitiveness is partly fueled by knowing what he missed out on because of the injury.
He attended the 2018 USA Basketball Men’s U18 National Team Training Camp as one of 32 invitees but did not make the cut for the FIBA U18 Americas Championship, where the U.S. won the gold medal.
“I’m just very excited and feel blessed with the opportunity to play in the Nike Hoop Summit,” he said. “I’ve played with and against Tyrese Maxey, Wendell Moore. The players on this team are among the best in the country, and I’m just coming in to play as hard as I can. The U.S. lost the game last year. I want to make sure we win.”
Moore definitely comes from a winning tradition at DeMatha, ranked No. 1 in Maryland and in the U.S. The school has helped produce NBA players like Adrian Dantley, Victor Oladipo, Markelle Fultz and others.
Winning the 2019 Maryland Private School state title after a 33-5 season helped to cap his high school career, showing that injuries are fully behind him. He’ll get another chance to demonstrate that at the Hoop Summit.