Thursday, November 13, 2008

Meet Aalim Moor

(top photo is of the entire multi-generational Moor family -- photo just above is Moor signing his letter-of-intent)

Here's the third article on San Jose State's newest men's basketball recruits. We have known Aalim Moor and the Moor family for some time and they will be a tremendous addition to Spartan basketball.

11 questions with new Spartan Aalim Moor

It's not news that St. Mary's High point Aalim Moor is bound for San Jose State even though it's now an official signed, sealed and delivered matter. However, there are a number of tangential subjects to the earning of this college basketball scholarship, many of which are not well known. Recently, we had the opportunity to interview Moor about this and here is what we learned:

SH - There is a long tradition of young men in the Oakland area landing athletic scholarships, especially so in basketball. What does being one of the latest to do so mean to you?

AM - It means everything. I’ve grown up playing basketball all over Oakland since I was 5 years old. I played on five-foot courts at the Eastlake YMCA, CYO games at St. Elizabeth, ONBL games at Frick Junior High School and some wild and crazy AAU games at Rainbow Recreation Center and Bushrod Park. My Dad use to take me to see all the top guys play all around the city. He used to either coach or work out most of them so I was always around the scene. I really looked up to them all! I still have an Oakland Tribune article pinned up on my bedroom wall from June 30th 2005 with a picture of Quentin Thomas (North Carolina), Armondo Surat (USF) and Ayinde Ubaka (Cal) on the cover. That was all the motivation I needed. I take a lot of pride in being from Oakland. To be a part of the continuing tradition of great guards playing D-1 college ball coming out of the “Town” means everything to me.

SH - As you have gone from a high school freshman to a senior as a basketball player, who was Aalim Moor III then and who is he now?

AM - As a freshman on varsity, I was a skinny and non-athletic but confident player who had an okay feel for the varsity game. Being a freshman on varsity felt like a small fish in a big pond. I knew I could play but being real I knew that it would take time for me to actually show my talents because there were proven seniors ahead of me. As a senior now I feel like a shark in a fish tank. I feel the tables have turned. I still have things to prove to myself but my confidence as a player has really gone up. So I would say the difference between 14-year-old Aalim and 17-year-old Aalim is that his game has evolved and matured.

SH - As you have gone from a high school freshman to a senior, how have you evolved as a person? Has your perspective changed?

AM - When I was a freshman at Saint Mary’s, I was a wide-eyed, nervous, shy and reserved person who didn’t know what high school had to bring. As I grew up and began to realize what high school was about I kind of came out of my shell and was more social. Now as a senior I’m a really open, outgoing person that tries to mentor the freshman coming in because I know how I felt coming in not knowing what to expect.

SH - You played club team basketball with the Oakland Soldiers and then finished up last season with the Bay Area Hoosiers. Phil Doherty of the Hoosiers has a reputation for assisting players in further developing their skills sets. Can you provide some specifics regarding how working with him benefited you?

AM - Working with Coach Phil helped me take my game to the next level -- he is a teacher of the game. He taught me how to play the right way by working. with me on cleaning up all the aspects of my game. We worked on my ball handling, my jump shot, footwork, post moves, defense, court awareness, rebounding and my perimeter game. He teaches you all the little tricks you need to be “one step ahead” of your opponent mentally and physically. I’ve been to a lot of skills camps and worked with some really good trainers, Coach Phil is one of the best I’ve seen. He works harder than anybody in the gym. He really cares about you as a person. My confidence and knowledge of the game really increased. If you consider yourself to be a serious player and you really want to work hard and get better then you better go work out with Coach Phil and the Hoosiers.

SH - You do physical training with Anthony Eggleton at Advanced Sports Training in the East Bay. How has that benefitted you?

AM - Coach Ant is the reason I am the player I am today. He has worked with all the top players in the Bay Area with strength and conditioning. He not only works on getting you stronger physically, he works on getting you stronger and more focused mentally and spiritually as well. When I first started working with him about seven months ago, I was 170 pounds with a vertical jump of about 31 inches. Today I weigh 184 with a vertical jump of about 37 inches and climbing with every work out. I feel stronger, more athletic, faster, more aggressive and have a better diet. Coach Ant is the Truth.

SH - The latest NCP rankings recently came out and ranked you #21 and had a critique of your game. What was your reaction?

AM - Honestly, I was a little surprised they ranked me so low. I felt I had a very good spring and summer on the circuit and got a lot bigger, stronger and more athletic. But hey, I can’t cry about it or complain. The 2009 class is loaded with talented players and I'm honored NCP put me on the list with such quality players. Most of these guys are friends anyway, I'm happy for them. As far as the "critique" about my game, I just take it all in stride at this point. I know who I am, what I have accomplished and what I plan to get done. I've had to deal with certain people always downplaying my game and telling me what I can't do. But the teammates I’ve played with and the opponents I play against know exactly what’s real about my game. I’m extremely motivated and I plan on going hard this year. I'm not backing down from anybody; I'm on a mission.

SH - Some have said that to a degree you have 'submerged' aspects of your game for the good of your teams(s) -- meaning there are aspects of your game you don't need to display because getting the ball upcourt and to your teammates in scoring position are your focus. If this is true, has this role been difficult for you?

AM - I would agree with that -- to a point, your statement is true. I have submerged aspects of my game for the good of teams I’ve played on. I consider myself to be a leader. And as a leader, you have to take care of the people around you and keep them happy. That’s my strength, that’s what I do. But at times, I know it has hurt the way some people view my overall game. This is my senior year and I still plan on doing whatever I have to do to help our team win but I have been working out hard this summer on all aspects of my game and I plan on bringing it all to the table.

SH - Why was San Jose State your choice?

AM - It’s the best place for me academically, socially and athletically. The campus is beautiful, the weather is always nice and it’s a cool city. They have my major (Sports Management/Business Administration) and I wanted to stay in the Bay Area. As far as basketball goes, I feel San Jose State is a perfect fit. When I was going through my recruitment over a year ago you asked me what I was looking for in a college and a coach and I said “I was looking for a playing style that gets up and down the floor, sort of a controlled chaos but with a play-running structure when the break isn’t there." As for a college coach, I wanted "a coach I can relate to but not a buddy type -- rather one I can be friends with but who is running the show." That’s what the WAC is, that’s what San Jose State University is and that’s who Coach Nessman is. Plus, we are going to have a really good team with some really good players.

SH - What do you 'bring to the table' with your game/what can SJSU fans expect?

AM - I will bring a winning attitude and be a team player. All my life I have been expected to be a leader on and off the court -- it’s just how I was raised. Coming into this situation will be a little different at first. I will be coming in as a freshman with a lot of established veteran players that have been there already putting in their work. I know I’ll have a lot to learn and have a lot to prove and I promise I’ll work hard to earn my place on the team and the trust of my teammates and coaches.

SH - What is your relationship with [St. Mary's Coach] Manny Nodar? How has playing for him effected your basketball development?

AM - We have a special relationship -- he trusts me and I trust him. Coach Nodar taught me how to be a winner and to go hard at all times. When I was a freshman he told me “half an effort is no effort at all” and I never forgot that. I respect him a lot. I want to win that last game of the year for him.

SH - The new high school season is almost upon us -- how will St. Mary's do this season?

AM - I think we will do well this year. I know people have certain ideas and expectations for us but our job as a team is to take the expectations, appreciate them, and let them go. This year will be interesting because we have a huge target on our back and every team will be playing us like its their world championship. I expect us to go as far into the playoffs as we did last year but having a different result at the end.

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