Moore evolves into elite national prospect
Westside head coach Josh Grube knew he had some special talent on his team heading into the 2016-17 season.
How special that talent was, however, might not have hit him until the season-opening game against Norcross, a Georgia power program, at an Atlanta-area showcase.
It was one of the first times Grube, in his ninth year of leading the Seminoles, had coached in a game that had a section of seats specifically reserved for college coaches.
At the time, Westside had two high-end prospects in action. Khavon Moore, who had become the Seminoles’ go-to player as a sophomore, was joined by 6-foot-11, 285-pound post player Kentrevious Jones, a transfer from Central who had worked hard to develop his game.
Westside fell short in that opener, 82-74. The Seminoles also lost Jones less than a month into the season when the Xavier signee transferred to an out-of-state prep school.
But Moore and company had plenty of big games remaining in front of them.
With plenty of veteran players surrounding him, Moore averaged 23.1 points and 11 rebounds. He also helped lead Westside (25-4) to its first region title during Grube’s tenure, with the Seminoles going on the road to beat a talented Central squad in the region title game.
Those accomplishments kept Moore near the top of the charts when it comes to the 2018 college basketball recruiting class. It also secured him The Telegraph’s All-Middle Georgia Boys Basketball Player of the Year honors.
“Once you get used to (the big-game atmosphere),” it’s really fun,” Moore said. “The crowd gets you going, and you play into that and you try to get momentum.”
Moore regularly has high-level college basketball head coaches visiting Westside’s campus. Georgia head coach Mark Fox recently paid a visit, and he has at least two dozen Division I offers.
At 6-8 and 185 pounds, Moore can play the shooting guard and small forward positions. ESPN has Moore ranked eighth in its 2018 top 60 rankings, while Rivals ranks him as the No. 11 overall prospect in the class of 2018.
“I saw tremendous growth in him,” Grube said. “His points per game are up every year, along with his assists. He did a real good job of taking care of the basketball this year, and he shot the ball better this year.”
The attention Moore receives was on display in Westside’s GHSA Class 3A quarterfinal at Pace Academy, billed as a showdown between Moore and Georgia Player of the Year Wendell Carter. Among the collegiate coaches in attendance was Georgia Tech head coach Josh Pastner, who staked out a highly visible spot along one of the baselines in a gym that had a standing-room only crowd ringing the building’s three levels.
Moore put forth a highly competitive effort that night with 19 points and 12 rebounds, with Carter recording 17 points and 18 boards. Westside came oh-so-close to pulling off the road upset, losing in double-overtime after a potential go-ahead basket in the final seconds of regulation was waved off by a backcourt violation call off a steal.
“That atmosphere was unbelievable,” Grube said. “Throw the college coaches in, that was a big-time atmosphere.”
“That crowd, that atmosphere, that was one of the biggest I’ve played in,” Moore said.
There will be more showcase games coming up for Moore and the Seminoles.
Grube already has committed the team to the Chick-fil-A Classic in Columbia, South Carolina. That tournament’s champion last season, La Lumiere of Indiana, won the Dick’s Sporting Goods High School Nationals and claimed the top spot in the final USA Today rankings.
Other tournaments Westside might attend in 2017-18, according to Grube, are the Beach Ball Classic in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, and the Spalding Hoophall Classic in Springfield, Massachusetts.
“We’re trying to play a tough national schedule,” Grube said. “We want to get past the Elite Eight, and playing those games will be good experience for Khavon and the others on the team.”
One thing is for certain: Moore, who is in no hurry to trim his recruiting list, is going to have plenty of opportunities to showcase his talents once winter rolls around again.
“His goal is to set the school 3-point record,” Grube said. “If he keeps improving his jump shot, he can definitely do that. He’s hitting mid-40s from 3, more than he did his sophomore year. He definitely got better, but he went through spurts. He’s working to become a more consistent 3-point shooter. If he does that, boy, he’s going to be something else.”