Bill Self has added one of the country’s top perimeter players — a 5-foot-9, 170-pound dynamo who can both score and distribute — to the roster of Kansas University’s World University Games basketball team.
SMU senior Nic Moore, who averaged 14.5 points and 5.1 assists a game in earning American Athletic Conference Player of the Year honors, has accepted the KU coach’s invitation to play in the Games, July 3-14 in South Korea. He’ll also play in KU’s two exhibition games against Canada on June 23 and 26 in Kansas City’s Sprint Center.
“He’s one of the best guards in the country period,” said Self, who sought an additional guard to join the likes of Frank Mason, Devonté Graham and Wayne Selden, plus newcomer LaGerald Vick, who likely will be in Lawrence for the start of practice on June 8 after he completes reclassification to the recruiting Class of 2015.
“He can play on the ball. He can play off the ball. He’s little, so we’ll have three little guys running around out there sometimes,” Self added of Moore, Mason (5-11) and Graham (6-2).”
Moore — he swished a school-record eight threes in 11 attempts en route to 28 points in a game against Houston last season — hit 42 percent of his shots and a league-best 41.6 percent of his threes (77 of 185) and league-best 87.5 percent of his free throws. Moore scored 20 or more points in nine games and had five or more assists in 21 games. He had 24 points against UCLA in the NCAA Tournament and was named honorable mention All-America by the Associated Press.
He came highly recommended by former KU head coach Larry Brown, the current head coach at SMU, and ex-Jayhawk assistant Tim Jankovich, the Mustangs’ associate head coach and head coach-in-waiting.
“I was up in the (SMU coaches) office one day and they (Brown, Jankovich) gave me the great news and said I’d have an opportunity playing with Kansas to represent the U.S. and go overseas and play,” Moore said, noting it “was about a week ago.”
“It was one of those things ... like a deep breath,” he exclaimed of being speechless upon learning of the offer. “I’ve never been overseas to experience (something like) that, but just the opportunity to play with a great program and represent the USA, I feel like that’s an accomplishment and just feels great.”
Moore hasn’t met any of the KU players ... yet.
“I watch them throughout the season, catch them on TV. It’s a fun group of guys to watch,” Moore said. “I don’t know them personally but watching ’em on TV, I feel like I know them,” he added, laughing.
Self explained the need to land a player from another college team.
“The key for us is we can travel with 12 players. The reason we’re taking a player from another school is because Svi (Mykhailiuk) cannot go (because he is not U.S. citizen) and Brannen (Greene) is not able to compete because of his hip surgery so we’re down to really three perimeter players.
“With the addition of a potential recruit, if we’re able to do that, that would be four (Vick). Then we’re still a perimeter player short so I looked around. Of course with the relationship we have with Jank and coach Brown, they told us all along, ‘Hey if you need anybody, Nic would be a kid who would love to go.’ We get a chance to take arguably the most valuable player in the American Conference and a terrific kid. They (Mustangs) do a lot of the same things we do so he’ll be an easy blend for our guys.”
Moore, who is from Winona Lake, Indiana, transferred to SMU after one season at Illinois State.
“I love the game of basketball,” Moore said. “I’m always going to play hard. I’m a team player. Regardless of what I do, I just wish the best outcome for the team — and that would be a victory. Me being there is great and I just want to help and be positive, that’s if I’m playing or if I’m on the bench. That’s just who I am. I’m a team person,” added Moore, who, of course, will return to SMU for his senior season after spending the summer with the Jayhawks.
Here’s how the roster currently shapes up for the 12-man KU World Games team: Mykhailiuk, Cheick Diallo (Mali native) and the injured Greene cannot attend, thus the Jayhawks have 10 available players in Mason, Selden, Graham, Jamari Traylor, Landen Lucas, Perry Ellis, Hunter Mickelson, Carlton Bragg, Vick and Moore. Self is hoping to bring in one more scholarship player. If that player is from the U.S., he’d play in the Games with one of KU’s three walk-ons taking the final spot. If KU’s final signee is from a foreign country, two KU walk-ons could play in the Games. Players not participating will serve as team managers.