Auburn freshman Chris Moore—a 6’6″ wing from West Memphis, Arkansas—could be Auburn’s most underrated newcomer.
Moore’s head coach from West Memphis High School, Marcus Brown, provided AU Hoops News with an in-depth break down of Moore’s game. Including why a comparison to Isaac Okoro makes sense, how Brown’s time playing in college and the NBA helped him coach Moore, an accurate recruiting ranking of Moore, Moore’s biggest weakness and more.
What are your overall thoughts on Chris Moore?
Brown: He’s a monster. Great athlete but even better person. Everything he got, he deserves. He has worked extremely hard for it.
West Memphis High School Basketball’s twitter account and Bruce Pearl (in The Athletic’s Auburn preview) compared Moore’s game to Isaac Okoro, in terms of an Auburn player comparison. Do you think that’s accurate?
Brown: From what I’ve seen, I think that’s a pretty good comparison. When they made that comparison, Chris’ jump shot still wasn’t as fluid, but Chris was able to defend bigger guys. It’s a good gauge for his potential.
Would you project him to play the same position as Okoro did at Auburn?
Brown: I think the small forward position is where his potential is. I think he can definitely play there, or be a utility four. You can even play him as a five, depending on the match up.
Is Moore underrated on a national level?
Brown: To be honest with you, Chris was ranked [109 on Rivals]. There were not 30 guys from 75-109 that were better than him. I told him not to worry about that. He was Third Team All-EYBL for two summers. How is someone Third Team All-EYBL and not even able to crack the top 100? That was B.S. (per Drew: Moore was the only player who made any of the three All-EYBL Teams who is ranked outside the top 45 by 247 Composite and Rivals.)
How versatile of a defender do you think Moore is?
Brown: I think [Moore being able to guard 2-4] is a fair assessment. Him being there early and working on his footwork and his foot speed will help. He already has the strength, the intelligence and the mindset. He just has to work on his foot speed on the perimeter and his step-in, knock-down jump shot.
A lot of times, we wanted Chris to shoot the ball from the perimeter. That’s something he did a lot more of as a sophomore and junior.
Do you think Moore’s physical dominance at the high school level played into him not relying on perimeter skills?
Brown: Absolutely. Think about it: If the game is on the line, do you want Chris on the perimeter or on the block? He’s such a great teammate, that he sacrificed things like that. We needed him [on the block] to win.
How else does Moore’s winning mentality impact his game?
Brown: Being a really good teammate, and a guy that can merge personalities together is always a great attribute. Chris has one of those personalities where people gravitate to him. And then, once they see his work ethic… Coach Pearl and his staff definitely know what they have.
What does Moore need to do to take his game to the next level?
Brown: He already has the physical attributes and intellect, and now it’s going to be repetition with him. Coach Pearl is known to put kids in a position to succeed, and Chris now just needs those reps and to play at the NCAA level.
Chris has to get comfortable with his jump shot and to continue to work on his foot speed. He has everything else. He’ll be a nightmare match up for small forwards and for guys bigger than him.
He’s not going to have problems guarding big guys, they’re going to have problems guarding him.
What all can Moore do on offense?
Brown: He has a lot of tools. He can get a rebound, take it coast-to-coast, hit the wing guy for a jumper, he can use his left hand and right hand around the basket.
What do you think Moore’s most underrated skill is?
Brown: I think it’s his ball handling. I don’t think a lot of people know that he can handle the ball and make a play off the dribble, but he can. Everyone questions his jump shot, and that’ll come. He’s gotten better at it in the last two months already. I’m not worried about that, but I think a lot of people sleep on his ball handling skills.
What is Moore’s potential when it comes to passing, court vision and play making?
Brown: We were at our best when Chris led us in the fast break. Chris averaged 18 rebounds a game last year, and we allowed him to start the break when he got rebounds. I’d just let him go. He had a lot of freedom. I didn’t want to over coach Chris Moore. I just wanted to sharpen the knife and polish his game.
How do you think his rebounding will translate to college?
Brown: I think it depends on the match up. If he’s guarding [bigger guys] and Chris is at the five, he’ll get a double-double. If the match up has him out on the perimeter, it’ll be hard for him to get that.
His freshman and sophomore year, we had guys that could shoot it and Chris never complained. I was like “shoot Chris, you could average a double-double if you just get the rebounds and put them back.” He’s just a big bully, you know what I mean? He had two games this year where he had triple-doubles, and he almost had one quadruple-double with points, rebounds, assists and blocks.
How has your career playing at a high level in college and the pros helped Chris?
Brown: For most players, you have to take it back three more steps, but Chris is an exception to the rule. I tell him something once, and he can see it.
Not everyone who plays at a high level knows how to teach it, and you have to learn how to break it down. What we did with Chris, was let him approach us with questions. And then I’d engage with him and try to see things from his perspective, and then we’d study film. I wanted to help him become a complete basketball player. Coach Pearl isn’t going to want you to do everything, but you have the skills to do a lot.
Bruce Pearl pitches Auburn’s facilities a lot, but he also says it’s up to the players to take advantage of them. Those that do seem to become great players and some turn into pros. Do you see Moore falling into those categories?
Brown: Absolutely. If you look at the guys who Coach Pearl coach and the guys who succeeded, Chris is definitely in that mold. Underrated, over looked guys who people didn’t really think about. The guys who came in and worked on their game and saw it translate to the floor and into success. And for the team, not just individually.
If you put in the work, things work themselves out. Chris Moore has definitely put himself in a great position.
Drew: Great discussion with Coach Brown. I really liked the explanation he gave about letting Moore see the game through his own eyes before going more in depth into specific areas of the game. He also mentioned pushing Moore to become a more complete player overall and I think that fits very well with the versatile group of players Auburn put together for the 2020 class.
Another takeaway was Brown’s frustration with Moore’s rankings, especially after making Third Team All-EYBL. He was ranked just outside of the top 100 by 247 and Rivals, yet was considered a top 16 player in the EYBL circuit. In fact, Moore was the only player who made any of the All-EYBL teams that is ranked outside the top 45 by 247 Composite and Rivals. That doesn’t add up. It is not something that will impact Moore’s game, but I agree he should have been ranked a good bit higher than his final spot.
Jay: The Okoro comparison has stood out to me lately. Especially after the West Memphis basketball account tweet about it, and then Bruce Pearl mentioned it in the Auburn preview. The physical attributes are there, but Brown’s confidence in Moore’s defense and court vision makes me confident it’s a comparison that might be made more often in the future.
I also think the comments about Moore needing to work on his perimeter game and shot are important. If Moore does that, he’ll be a tough player to keep off the court.