Coronavirus shutdown doesn’t stop DJ Moore of Worthington Christian from honing his basketball skills
DJ Moore was out of options.
Forced like the rest of us into isolation at home while waiting out the coronavirus pandemic, the Worthington Christian standout needed somewhere permissible to work on his game. So before everything shut down, Moore and his father went out and bought a portable basketball hoop for the driveway.
“I couldn’t sit in the house,” Moore told The Dispatch. “That’s not my thing to do.”
It’s the kind of approach that’s played him onto the recruiting boards of two of the state’s top college programs in spite of an injury-shortened season. Although he doesn’t yet have a profile on any of the major recruiting sites, the member of the class of 2022 has had plenty of contact with coaches from Ohio State, Dayton and others.
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Throughout it, Moore juggled a return to football and a toe injury that didn’t hold him back from earning first-team all-state honors as a wide receiver but did hold him out for the first three games of his sophomore basketball season.
It wasn’t until about mid-January, coach Kevin Weakley said, that he started to get back to the form displayed when he was named the Mid-State League Ohio Division’s player of the year as a freshman. Moore said he had taken part in two full practices before getting back onto the court for a game.
The 6-foot-3 point guard would average 15.3 points per game as a sophomore and be named first-team all-state in basketball, too, while helping the Warriors reach the district finals.
“He just has an innate ability to see what’s going on around him in real time and then execute the right play,” Weakley said. “It’s really evident when you watch him play for five minutes. He knows where the ball should go and what to do with the ball at the right time. He’s just a real cerebral player.”
It’s gotten him plenty of early recruiting attention. Ohio State hosted him on an unofficial visit for an early-season football game and then for two Big Ten basketball games at Value City Arena. Dayton, too, has hosted him and visited him in practice.
“Dayton was in to watch a practice in January,” Weakley said. “(Associate head coach Anthony) Solomon, he walked out of the gym and he said, ‘There’s just something different about that kid.’ That’s what everybody says about him.”
Moore finds himself in a tough spot going forward with his recruitment. AAU basketball, like the rest of the sports world, is on an indefinite pause, limiting the chances he will have to show his talents to high-major programs in the coming weeks. It’s a situation that is somewhat stressful, Moore said, but nothing that he can control.
“We’ll see what happens,” Weakley said. “Obviously, Dayton was going to be a No. 1 seed this year. They’re recruiting him. Ohio State has had him to several practices and workouts. He’s been there twice for games. Then there’s some really great mid-majors that are recruiting him.”
There are some ties to the Buckeyes. Moore’s trainer, Jason Dawson, played for Ohio State coach Chris Holtmann while at Gardner-Webb. Weakley’s brother played in high school with Ohio State assistant coach Ryan Pedon at Bexley.
“Getting to know all of them, it’s been a great time since my first visit during football season,” Moore said.
While Moore enjoys watching the games, Weakley said the sophomore values getting to watch practices more. Moore said he tries to pick up on tips he can bring back to his practices that will make Worthington Christian better.
“That’s where he has learned the most about Ohio State, coach Holtmann and what they value,” Weakley said. “Obviously, he’s in a program that values a lot of what they value at Ohio State: high character, great effort, having a good attitude, being coachable, learning to execute.
“He likes the discipline of the program. Coach Holtmann doesn’t seem to allow players to do whatever they want. He holds them accountable, and I think DJ really likes that and expects that from people that coach him.”
Once he's allowed to be coached again, at least.
"I can’t play any games with anybody because everything is shut down, so I’ve got to work on my skills, ball handling, shooting, everything that I can work on by myself," he said. "I don’t know what’s going to happen, but I know I can keep getting better on my own."