For five minutes on Friday afternoon, Jalen Moore gave us all a glimpse of what he could be.
At 6-foot-8, and more athletic than any of his peers, he rebounded the ball above the rim. He turned down open 3-point shots, instead driving to the basket and ending up on the free-throw line. He scored nine points in those five minutes.
He had two in the first 30 minutes.
"We need more," Todd Phillips would say following Utah Pump N' Run's 72-67 win over Utah Hoops at South Towne Exposition Center. "We need Jalen to realize he's the best player on the floor during every game."
In Friday's Big Mountain Jam, the premier annual AAU event to hit town, Moore showed why Utah State coaches are drooling over his commitment, and waiting anxiously for the day he can throw on an Aggie uniform.
Moore is a true small forward, capable of handling the ball in the open floor, and even playing a little point guard when needed. He can shoot from the perimeter, is a good passer and can play three positions.
But there has always been the question of playing hard with Moore. It's dogged him since he first established himself as a Division I talent. The questions intensified in March when Sky View stunningly went out in the first round of the Class 4A state tournament to Skyline.
"It left a bad taste in my mouth," Moore said. "I look back, and I realize that I could've done more to help my team win."
Moore is playing with Pump N' Run for the first time in his career, a move designed to help him face better competition in the summer months. Phillips has been hard on Moore, demanding that he be more accountable, expecting production on a consistent basis.
The change is noticeable. On Friday, Moore was active on both ends, especially on defense. He was vocal with his teammates, a sign that he's accepting more of a leadership role. And playing with a star-studded cast including Orem's Zach Hunsaker, Riverton's Stephen Holm and Sky View's Casey Oliverson, Moore is still standing out.
"You look at him, and you see one of the best players in the state," Phillips said. "He's a steal for Utah State. Had they not committed him early, this is a kid that would've had Pac-12 offers, easy. He's got so much talent and so much upside. Jalen is a guy who has NBA potential."
Utah State, like it did with Marcel Davis and Quincy Bair, received a verbal commitment from Moore following his sophomore season. He is the son of Jimmy Moore, one of the best players in USU history, and one of the leading scorers in school history.
Jimmy Moore willingly says that his son is more advanced at the same stage. He's happy with Jalen's progress, but he wants him to dominate on a more consistent basis.
Still, Jalen Moore may be the kind of player Stew Morrill has never had: a tall, athletic, rangy wing with diverse skills. And heading into a high school year where Utah has a strong senior class — with players such as Nick Emery, Eric Mika and Parker Van Dyke — Moore looks like he will only add to that overall strength.
Class of 2013
• Nick Emery, Lone Peak, committed to BYU
• Eric Mika, Lone Peak, committed to BYU
• Jalen Moore, Sky View, committed to Utah State
• Parker Van Dyke, East High, committed to Utah
• Brandon Miller, Brighton, uncommitted, considering Utah and Stanford
Post was originally published by The Salt Lake Tribune on June 29, 2012 11:05PM