Kansas guard Isaiah Moss is in search of the quickness that was stolen from him when he injured his right hamstring shortly after arriving on campus.
But while the injury impacted his ability to move laterally, reach top-end speed while sprinting and jump to the fullest of his ability, Moss showed last Friday night that it did nothing to the quick release that triggers his jump shot.
Playing just his second official game for the Jayhawks, the graduate transfer from Iowa led the fifth-ranked Jayhawks (2-1) with 21 points in 15 minutes.
Fifteen of those 21 points came on 5-of-6 shooting from 3-point range and the other six came from his perfect night at the free-throw line, where he went 6-of-6 on charity shots.
Most people closely associated with the program — and even a large percentage of the KU fan base — were aware of what kind of weapon Moss could be for this team when news of him joining the roster first hit.
But now that they’ve seen it firsthand, it’s even more clear.
“You get 21 points on six shots, it’s very encouraging to have a guy like that, that (teams) have to guard and that will be able to stretch the defense as we continue to go,” KU coach Bill Self said after Friday’s victory. “Now, there are not going to be a lot of teams that don’t guard him and he got off some open looks, but still though you’ve got to make them.”
That last part has never been an issue for Moss, a pure shooter if ever there were one.
Each shot attempt looks the same, with his form and technique consistent from jumper to jumper. His experience and intelligence also ensure that he does not take a shot unless he can square his body to the rim and go through the same steps that make his shot look good every time it leaves his hands.
“Seeing the ball go in early was definitely good for my confidence,” Moss said.
That type of maturity was one of the most popular traits that Moss’ new teammates emphasized after he arrived in Lawrence — a been-there-done-that type of mentality.
But remember, we’re talking about a player who said when he signed that he was more than just a shooter. It will take a return to full health for Moss to show that. And that fact was very much on his mind on Friday while recapping his hot-shooting night.
“It’s been a process,” he said of recovering from the nagging hamstring injury that first surfaced on the first official day of practices. “With me re-injuring it, it’s just been a process of me trying to get back up and get treatment. Every day, multiple times a day. It’s getting better, so I’m just going to keep getting treatment.”
“It’s not really sore anymore,” he added. “It’s just me getting those reps back and getting back to being as quick as I used to be.”
Until then, Moss’ focus is simple: Get healthy, get quicker and continue to knock down shots whenever he gets open looks.
“We just want to bring energy,” Moss said of KU’s reserves. “Starts with defense, just talking, and then just letting the game come to us offensively.”
In all, that philosophy led to 14 3-point makes for the Jayhawks on Friday night — five from Moss, three from fellow reserve Christian Braun and six more from five other Jayhawks.
“Nobody shot it near like him,” Self said of Moss. “He was terrific. … We’re not going to average 14 for the year, but if we can be somewhere around that eight or nine mark, I think that would bode pretty well for us.”
Next up for Moss and the Jayhawks is another home game Tuesday versus East Tennessee State. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m.