|Khory Moore has made the most of his opportunities at Virginia Wesleyan and is determined to lead the Marlins back to the NCAA tournament.
Virginia Wesleyan Athletics photo
Sometimes the opportunities an athlete doesn't get turn out to be blessings in disguise.
Virginia Wesleyan senior Khory Moore is the perfect example.
He struggled academically early in his high school career, missing the first half of his sophomore year because of grades, and never really attracted the attention of bigger schools despite his unbelievable basketball talent.
So he ended up at Virginia Wesleyan, playing for a Marlins team with a history of success and he has seized every moment over the last four years, from winning Rookie of the Year honors in the ODAC to being named a D3hoops.com All-American.
"It's a blessing to play at Virginia Wesleyan," Moore said. "I thought it was going to be easy when I first got here because it's D-III, but I learned right away that the basketball is very good at this level."
Moore has established himself as a go-to player over the course of his career and has been instrumental to the success the Marlins have enjoyed.
Averaging 24.8 points and 5.7 rebounds per game, Moore has helped the Marlins shake off a rugged start – Virginia Wesleyan lost two of its first five – and fashion an 8-3 mark through its first 11 games.
"I still feel like I have some work to do on defense, but offensively, I'm playing with a lot of confidence," Moore said. "I'm playing through my teammates and I owe them a lot of credit for what I've been able to do this season."
Moore is dangerous from the outside, knocking down 32 3-pointers, and has shown flashes of his potential on defense, racking up 14 steals. Moore has also dished out 30 assists.
His ability to be more than just a scorer is what Moore believes he has improved on the most since his career began.
"I feel like I've become more of an all-around player," Moore said. "In high school, it's all about scoring. When I got here, I had to do more than just score if I was going to be a great player. I've focused a lot on making an impact in other ways this year and bringing a lot of energy to the team."
His success proves he has grown as a player, but he's also grown as a person. Moore isn't afraid to admit that coming out of high school he wasn't all that independent.
"I was a real mama's boy," Moore said. "I didn't have to do much for myself. I didn't even know how to do my own laundry. I've grown up for sure. It's been a life-changing experience for me. It's opened my eyes to a new world."
He's also thrived in the classroom.
"I was ineligible part of my sophomore year (of high school) and when I got to college I still wasn't much of a school guy. But you do what you have to do to play the sport you love," Moore said. "In a lot of ways I think college has been easier. Being in smaller classes has been a big help. It wouldn't have been that way at a bigger school. You would have been just another student."
As he looks back on it all now, he's impressed with how far he has come. Some athletes would have fallen through the cracks, never to be heard from again.
Moore is a feel-good story that still has chapters left to be written.
"To be considered one of the best players in the country and to do well in school, it's something that hasn't all sunk in yet, and it probably won't until after it's over," Moore said. "My mom tells me every day she is proud of me, and that means a lot."
Winning also means a lot to Moore and he's primed and ready to do whatever he can to give the Marlins a shot to win a conference title and compete in the NCAA tournament, especially after last year ended in disappointment by the Marlins' standards.
Yeah, the Marlins went 18-9, but they failed to make the tournament for the first time since the 2003-04 campaign.
"It was a disappointing year for us because we didn't live up to the high expectations we have here," Moore said. "We felt entitled a little and didn't play as well as we should have. We've gotten back to playing our kind of basketball and are playing with a chip on our shoulder."
Moore said the pieces are no doubt in place for the Marlins to, at the very least, make the NCAA tourney. And that is his focus at the moment, although he took time to talk about his future.
"Right now my focus is on the team and helping them win, but I do want it to make it overseas and play basketball," Moore said. "I'm working hard for that goal and look forward to the chance to achieve it."
Gents show signs of promise
This season hasn't always been easy for Centenary but the Gents have been competitive at times and sit at 5-6 on the season after winning three of their last four. Three of their losses this season have been by 10 points or less, including an 82-73 loss to Austin College Friday night.
Centenary didn't score in the final three minutes of the game as it dropped its SCAC opener, but Travion Kirkendoll had a big night, scoring 21 points.
Kirkendoll has been one of the bright spots for the Gents, ranking second on the team in scoring at 16.3 points per game.
James Sapp has also stepped up and leads the Gents in scoring this season. He scored 11 points and grabbed 10 rebounds in the loss to Austin and is averaging 19.5 points per outing on the year.
Sapp had one of his best performances in Monday's 89-81 win over Hendrix, scoring 29 points and grabbing 11 rebounds. Kirkendoll added 11 points, six rebounds, seven assists and three steals, helping the Gents improve to 6-6 on the year.
Sapp, who has led Centenary in scoring seven times, is grabbing 10.8 rebounds per game.
Morris rising up for Ladies
Jasmine Morris is having quite a year for Centenary. Scoring 11 points and grabbing 11 rebounds in a 65-47 loss to Austin, the sophomore star came through with her third double-double of the season. The 11 rebounds is a career high for Morris.
Morris has led the Ladies in scoring in each of the last four games, putting up 20 or more twice, and she is the team's leading scorer at 16.6 points per game. Morris is the only player on the team putting up more than 10 points per game for the 3-7 Ladies.
Morris is building off what she accomplished a year ago when she started 21 games and averaged 14.8 points per outing. Her 385 points last season were the second-most by a freshman in school history. She has 166 points this year.
Millsaps finishes off non-league play
Millsaps capped its non-conference slate with a 66-58 win over Covenant Friday. The Majors are 7-4 on the season as they head into Southern Athletic Association action.
Kala-Jewel Freeman shined in the win, scoring 15 points to go along with eight rebounds, four assists and two blocks. Kim Klunk came through with a double-double as she scored 14 points and grabbed 15 rebounds.
The Majors have won two in a row and have gotten steady contributions from Freeman all year. Scoring in double figures in six consecutive games, Freeman is the leading scorer at 15.6 points per outing.
The Majors have relied heavily on their defense as well. In its win over Covenant, the Majors forced 18 turnovers and have forced 182 in all this year while holding opponents to an average of 60.5 points per game. Katie Connor leads the defense with 18 steals.
Yellow Jackets continue to thrive
LeTourneau stretched its win streak to four games Friday with an 89-84 win over Texas Lutheran in its holiday classic. The Yellow Jackets went 2-0 in the tourney, defeating Schreiner 87-81 in the opener Thursday.
Alec Colhoff paved the way for the Yellow Jackets, scoring 17 points, with 15 of those points coming in the second half as the LeTourneau beat Texas Lutheran for the first time since 2012 and improved to 8-4.
The win over Texas Lutheran continued the Yellow Jackets' string of dominance against SCAC opponents. LeTourneau finished 5-0 this year against teams from that conference and heads into ASC play with momentum.
Nate West and Colhoff have been instrumental in LeTourneau's great start to the year. West leads the team at 13.7 points per outing and Colhoff is averaging 13.5.
The duo has put the Yellow Jackets in position to have their first winning season since 2008-09 when it finished 16-10. LeTourneau won only 12 games last year.
Crusaders crush records
Tom Kaiser set a record for points in a game, scoring 45 points in Dallas' wild 136-127 win over Rhodes Monday night.
Kaiser scored 29 of his points in the second half and set an SCAC record for field goals made (21) as he broke a scoring record that had been on the books since 2003. His point total ranks fourth all-time in SCAC history. Kaiser is averaging 11.7 points per game this season.
Dallas also tied the school and conference record for points in a game and the 54 field goals it made as a team is a school and SCAC record as well on a night when it scored more than 100 points for the second time this season.