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Luella’s Moore doubting himself less

File photo 
Luella 7-foot center Doral Moore is quickly picking up recruiting interest from several Div. I heavyweights.

File photo Luella 7-foot center Doral Moore is quickly picking up recruiting interest from several Div. I heavyweights.

LOCUST GROVE — Once Luella basketball coach Jamond Sims got started talking about the progress of Doral Moore, the accolades flowed freely.

But at first, thoughts of the 7-foot Luella center left him nearly speechless — all except for one word.

“Wow,” Sims said when asked to reflect upon the rising junior’s progress since first arriving at the school. “It’s been a slow process, but an enjoyable one. When we first got him and he was making that transition from eighth to ninth grade, it was like having a blank slate. He was learning the game, but everything you wanted him to do, you had to program it into him.”

But the work paid off last season, as Moore’s game began to take shape as the Lions made the state playoffs for the first time in school history.

Moore’s towering presence down low was the cause of many an altered and blocked shot, giving Sims the kind of true big man that few other high school programs in the state have.

And now that Moore’s raw talent is starting to give way to a more refined skill set, Sims says the sky is the limit for Moore.

“Once he got an understanding of what we were expecting and of just how to play the game, that’s when his motivation and drive took over,” Sims said.

The ensuing confidence that Moore has acquired is probably a bigger asset to his game than any physical measurable.

And when confidence meets motivation, according to Moore, it produces determination.

“I just want to prove to everybody that I am one of the best players around, and to become the best player that I can be,” Moore said.

That assurance of ability wasn’t something that had always come easily for him. Moore said he had to first overcome what others would say about him before he could begin to believe in himself.

“When I was younger, I used to get picked on a lot because of my size,” he said. “But now I’ve realized that I have a great gift and it’s something I’m really starting to get good at. My confidence just exploded.”

Nobody’s laughing at Moore anymore, especially after looking at the caliber of schools that are beginning to pursue Moore for his eventual services in college.

When the likes of Kansas, Indiana, Ohio State, Cincinnati and Texas come calling — along with SEC teams like Georgia, Alabama, Ole Miss — there’s nothing to laugh at.

“When you’re that big and you’ve shown some steady and consistent improvement, people start to see the upside of what you could become in the next three or four years,” Sims said.

As basketball increasingly becomes a perimeter oriented game — even for ballers of Moore’s size — he finds himself learning from players who represent the throwback values of fundamental, back-to-the-basket type of play. He said he studies Tim Duncan and calls up old videos of Hakeem Olajuwon because he sees these players as those who best embodies his style of play.

“Those guys are key big men,” he said. “They can shoot a bit and score a bit, but they also like to get dirty down low.”

Along with senior-to-be guard TeMarcus Blanton, Luella has a potentially lethal inside-outside punch that Moore said will give them more than a chance to be a solid team in Region 2-AAAAAA this season.

Moore, who expects to average a double-double, said he’s looking for more than the minimum.

“If we all come together and do what we need to do as a team,” he said, “there’s no reason why we can’t go to state and even win it.”