Archive for Wednesday, August 14, 2002

Moody ready for walk-on experience

August 14, 2002


A Kansas University "Who's Who of Basketball" gathered in Allen Fieldhouse one steamy June 2002 evening for a dozen or so games of pick-up basketball.

Professionals Danny Manning, Drew Gooden, Scot Pollard, Jacque Vaughn, Billy Thomas, Nick Bradford and Greg Ostertag laced their Nikes, gearing for some run 'n gun with current Jayhawks such as Kirk Hinrich, Nick Collison, Wayne Simien and Christian Moody.

Christian Moody?

Yes, Christian Moody ... the wide-eyed future KU freshman walk-on from Asheville, N.C., shared the same court with some older, legendary Jayhawks just days after graduating from T.C. Roberson High School, not only Moody's, but KU coach Roy Williams' alma mater.

"One night before we played, Drew Gooden came up to me and said, 'I've got you,''' Moody said of the 6-foot-10 Memphis Grizzlies' rookie, indicating he'd be guarding the 6-8, 205-pound Moody. "Later that night I called a couple of my friends back home and said I was on the same floor with those guys and playing against Drew Gooden."

Moody he averaged 13.1 points and 9.3 rebounds his senior season for Roberson probably won't ever forget that pick-up contest in which he actually scored on the lottery draft pick.

"Once or twice," Moody said, "but I'm pretty sure it's when he (Gooden) was helping off on someone else."

Moody a brilliant student who had a 4.65 weighted grade point average in high school and genius-like score of 1,340 on the SAT was in Lawrence all June for the first session of summer school.

In between getting an A what else? in his "History After the Civil War" course, Moody, who has designs on being a medical doctor like his father, lifted weights and played some memorable games of basketball.

"We played every night," Moody said. "I found it's an incredible jump from high school to college. They (Jayhawks) are the best in the country. It was not like it was almost amazing, it was amazing," he exclaimed. "Every night was incredible."

On Cloud Nine at KU

Moody experienced first-hand a taste of the adulation KU basketball players receive. He was cheered by hundreds of Roy Williams basketball campers during introductions before a game between current Jayhawks and ex-Jayhawks. He even hit a "short 8-footer" to highlight his stint in the popular campers' contest.

"That was great," Moody said of the applause he garnered. "There was a group of kids at camp that might have been from North Carolina.

"I actually saw somebody there I knew."

Such is KU basketball, so popular campers congregate from as far away as North Carolina.

KU's lore, tradition and popularity were main reasons Moody elected to walk-on here instead of accepting some basketball scholarship offers from small schools on the East coast.

"One day my coach asked if I'd be interested (in Kansas)," Moody said of a conversation he had with Roberson coach Rich Sizemore first semester last school year. "Of course I was interested."

Sizemore, who realized Moody wanted to play college ball but wasn't a major college prospect, asked former Roberson coach Buddy Baldwin to contact KU coach Williams to ask if there might be some walk-on opportunities for Moody at say, Vanderbilt, where ex-KU aide Kevin Stallings is coach.

Baldwin was Williams' coach when Williams played at Roberson.

"Roy told Buddy they take three walk-ons each year at KU. So one thing led to another. We sent some tapes. Christian and his dad visited, then he and his mom went back and he fell in love with the place."

Sure did.

"I came out twice just to talk with the coaches and look around the campus," Moody said. "I took two unofficial visits. The coaches .. the players, it's perfect. I don't think I could ever pass up the opportunity to be part of such a great program."

Hospitality impressive

Moody's love of KU grew during the month he spent here this past summer. He returned to Carolina country after the first session of summer school to relax before his college journey begins.

"The first person I saw was Wayne when I arrived at the Towers," Moody said of sophomore Wayne Simien. "He remembered me from when I visited in December. That made me feel good. I was pretty nervous going out there two days after I graduated, but everybody was so nice to me. They are good guys to be around."

Moody realizes there are no guarantees of playing time.

In all probability, like most walk-ons, he'll only enter at the end of blowout games.

"It'd be great to play, but whatever I can do to help is what I want to do," Moody said.

He's encouraged that ex-Jayhawk T.J. Pugh is in medical school in Denver.

"I do think it will be hard, but I think I can do it," Moody said of taking difficult pre-Med classes. "T.J. Pugh did it. Coach told me about that. I liked hearing that."

He and Williams have shared a few stories about their shared alma maters.

"Coach talked to me a little bit about his playing days at Roberson our high school," Moody said. "He is so well-known (in Asheville). My gosh, today I was at my church, two people came up to me and said to 'tell Roy hi for me.'

"A couple people at my church were friends or parents of his friends or even a teacher of his. They are all really excited for me."

In a wild twist, KU will be playing UNC Asheville this season at Allen Fieldhouse.

"I have some friends at UNC Asheville I played AAU with some guys on their team," Moody said. "That will be incredible, amazing seeing them. It will not be incredible just for me, but them getting to play in Allen Fieldhouse. You don't get that opportunity many times."

Moody will have many opportunities the next four years. "I can't wait," he said.

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