Men’s Basketball: Moore Grit

Zach Silka

Craig Moore is only one person, but he is also the entire 2005 recruiting class for Northwestern.

And that suits the Doylestown, Pa., native just fine.

“To me it’s not a bad thing,” Moore said. “I’m looking forward to just winning games, and hopefully bringing some NCAA Tournament bids to the program.”

While many recruiters focused on Moore’s sharp shooting ability, his toughness may be his best quality. Moore broke his nose in the first quarter of a 72-60 win against Willingboro High School on Jan. 15 but came back to finish the game with a triple-double.

“There was blood all over the court, all over his uniform and all over the assistant coach,” said Diana Moore, Craig’s mother. “But they got it stopped bleeding, and he went over and sat by his coach and said, ‘I’m ready to go back in the game.’

“His coach said, ‘No, we’re going to hold you out for two more minutes.’ Then (Moore) slapped the floor and said, ‘I want to go back in the game.’

“His coach ended up putting him back in, and he played the rest of the game.”

Moore also provided the spark his team needed that night, as his buzzer-beating 3-pointer at the end of the third quarter held off a late charge from Willingboro.

Moore finished with 12 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists.

“He’s probably one of the most competitive kids you’ll ever really want to know,” Diana Moore said. “I think that’s one thing (NU coach) Bill Carmody saw in him that he not only knew how to play the game but he was also a tough competitor.”

Competing in the New Jersey Prep League, Moore has faced some of the nation’s elite high school basketball players.

In the 2004 New Jersey Prep-A State Championship game, Lawrenceville knocked off a St. Benedict’s squad that featured NBA draft pick J.R. Smith and Kansas freshman Alex Galindo.

Moore also faced Connecticut sophomore Charlie Villanueva and Chicago Bulls rookie Luol Deng in the 2003 New Jersey Prep-A semifinals en route to the first of Lawrenceville’s two straight state championships.

Moore, a 6-foot-3 point guard, averaged 12 points per game last season for Lawrenceville School in Lawrenceville, N.J., wasn’t even on the Cats’ radar until last summer.

NU assistant coach Paul Lee watched Moore at the Peach Jam Event in Augusta, Ga., in July and was the catalyst who lured Moore to campus.

Moore made an unofficial visit to NU in August with his family and returned for an official visit Oct. 2 where he saw the NU football team upset nationally-ranked Ohio State.

Despite receiving offers from Stanford, Rice, Davidson, Princeton and Pennsylvania, Moore signed with NU on Nov. 18.

“We think he’s a good player,” Carmody said. “He’s going to help us. He’s an excellent shooter and a very good passer, too.”

Because only one scholarship player — forward Davor Duvancic — will graduate after this season, Carmody could sign only one high school senior.

Moore said he doesn’t want to redshirt next season but instead is looking forward to making an impact immediately.

“In any way shape or form, I’ll contribute to the team as much as possible,” Moore said. “I’m up for anything, whatever coach (Carmody) needs.”

After following Carmody’s Princeton teams while in elementary school, Moore never imagined he actually would be playing for the respected coach.

But in addition to Carmody, Moore said his decision was influenced by the school atmosphere and beautiful campus.

“The things that most impressed me were the coaching staff and how much of a family the team seemed to be,” Moore said.

Reach Zach Silka at [email protected]