By Sadie Hughes
Photos by Shane Marshall
How many times have you heard the stunned radio announcer shout, “He casts it off. It’s good, it’s good! I don’t believe it! I don’t believe it! Jalen Moore has won the game!”?
Whether you watched the news at all during that week and caught the video clip or were simply a proud Bobcat fan reminiscing that unbelievable moment, you can probably quote that announcer perfectly. Even ESPN got into the act, as the shot was one of its top plays of the night.
Already a distinctive presence on the court for the Bobcats, due to his talent, his height and his unmistakable hairstyle, Sky View High senior Jalen Moore gained even more fame on March 1 when he shot that amazing buzzer-beater, sending his high school team to the Class 4A state championship game. The well-known result the following night was another incredible Sky View victory. So who is this illustrious high-schooler with the first-class ‘fro?
Moore is a brother, son, friend and basketball player among many other things. He has an older brother, Grayson, who plays basketball at a Division II college, Northwest Nazarene University. Jalen noted that he grew up playing basketball with his brother.
Some may be familiar with the name Jimmy Moore. A former professional basketball player, Jimmy happens to be Jalen’s father.
“He played four years at USU and two years in the NBA with the Supersonics,” Jalen said in summarizing his dad’s career. “Then he played professionally in Europe for eleven years.”
No doubt, his family has played a huge role in motivating Jalen, both to start playing basketball and to continue playing throughout his life.
From the age of four, Moore was dribbling a ball (probably better than a few of his peers could by the time they reached high school). Playing on competitive teams in third grade helped him recognize the love he had for the game, which turned into a passion that would drive him to play more seriously for the next 10 years.
When he started high school, it was an easy decision for him to try out for Sky View’s team, and it was probably an easy decision for the coaches to put him on the team.
“It’s fun and good to know teammates and be involved with the school,” Jalen said.
This is why, Moore explained, he enjoys playing high school basketball so much. An understandably important part of playing basketball has been the players with whom Jalen has played. When it comes to his fellow Sky View players, he affirmed that he would keep in touch with them throughout and after their LDS missions.
So, what else does Jalen do other than basketball?
After a humored chuckle and some thought, he concluded that his hobbies consist of basketball, basketball, basketball and even a little bit of basketball!
“I don’t even have any other hobbies, really,” Jalen said. “Just whatever other people do.”
Though it could be inferred that a partial contributor to Moore’s beloved afro might be a big head, his teammates confirmed that this is not the case.
“Jalen is an incredible person,” said Braxton Godderidge, a junior who played with Jalen on varsity this year. “He had every right to be cocky and stuck up because he is going to be playing D1 basketball, but he is not. He is a great friend and example to me and everyone around him. He doesn’t consider himself better than anyone else.”
Moore’s teammates enjoy playing with him and getting to know him.
“He’s a great person.. really nice and respectful to everyone,” said fellow Sky View senior basketball player Nelson Ricks. “I like how, even though he’s really good, he still involves his teammates.”
Many of these boys have been playing with Moore for many years and have had a number of practices and games to become quite familiar with the nature of his character.
When it comes to his future, Moore certainly has plans. There’s no question that universities were lining up to have him play for them, but “USU was the first one that offered, so I just chose to go there,” Moore said.
After college, he hopes to follow in good old Jimmy’s sneakers and play in the NBA or go to Europe to play professionally.
If you’ve ever wondered what was running through Jalen’s mind before and after that notorious shot against Bountiful, wonder no more.
“Before the shot, I knew I had to try and get a shot off in time,” Jalen said. “And after, I was amazed that it actually went in. I thought it was a dream.”
On arriving at the state championship game the following night against Region 5 rival Mountain Crest, Moore was sure he was in the right place at the right time.
“I felt confident that we were meant to be there and this moment was ours,” he said. “I just knew we needed to be patient and keep attacking and be smart and play as a team.”
With the scoreboard going back and forth, many fans just kept thinking it was anybody’s game. With the pressures of the game, Moore explained that in order to maintain an energetic and positive attitude, he is always trying to “cheer everyone up and think positively.” He also stated that he never lets his teammates’ or his own head hang.
When, finally, the aggravating feeling of not knowing the outcome of the game was replaced with the electrifying spirit of triumph, Jalen remembered going back to the feeling of being in a dream.
“Best feeling in the world!” he described.
Now, as we look back at those games, they think of that amazing player, No. 14, and his incredible talent. But many also look back at his character and the respect he showed toward his teammates, coaches and especially his opponents.
If you ask anyone who knows him, they are fond of their friendship with him. It’s exciting when you come across someone with exceptional talent, and it’s always great when you meet someone who shows complete humility and respect, but what a rarity to find all of these qualities in one person.
That’s exactly what you’ll find with Jalen Moore, and on top of that, he’s got a sweet ‘fro.
Sky View High student Sadie Hughes wrote this story as part of the Preps Utah student journalism program, powered by Nu Skin, which will award two of our published student journalists college scholarships at the end of the school year.