Include Cal’s Charlie Moore when discussing top freshman point guards
If you care about college basketball, you re already familiar with some of the fine freshmen point guards taking the country by storm. Washington s Markelle Fultz, UCLA s Lonzo Ball, North Carolina State s Dennis Smith and Kentucky s De Aaron Fox come to mind. It s only natural to think of these five-star studs when thinking of freshmen point guard sensations. If you dig a little deeper, you will notice another freshman point guard having a comparable season, while not nearly getting enough love and attention: Cal s Charlie Moore.
First off, let s hope that Moore is fine and in good health. He hurt his hip and missed the second half of Cal s game at Arizona on Saturday. Golden Bear coach Cuonzo Martin said this after the game:
While the Bears fought hard and did well in Moore s absence Saturday night, Cal can ill afford to have Moore miss an extended period of time. He makes the Bears engine run and his play has put Cal in position to secure its second straight NCAA Tournament appearance. Standing at just 5-foot-11 and weighing in at 170 pounds, the baby-faced Moore packs a lot of punch into his diminutive frame. Moore won t let physical shortcomings define his game. He goes to battle every night. Who can forget when he dropped 38 points, a Cal freshman record, on UC Irvine in November?
Prior to scoring just two points on Saturday, Moore was averaging 14 points, 3.8 assists and 2 rebounds in 30.8 minutes per game, while shooting 42.1 percent from the field, 39.6 percent from three-point range and 75.7 percent from the free-throw line. Those are some impressive numbers and if it wasn t for Ball, Moore would be looking at Pac-12 Freshman of the Year. As it is, the job he is doing is quite remarkable.
After initially signing with Memphis in the fall of 2016 and then decommitting from the program once Josh Pastner parted ways with the Tigers last spring, Moore reopened his recruitment. As a four-star recruit (247 Sports ranked him No. 72 in the 2016 class), several teams were interested in the Chicago-bred guard. However, with Cal in dire need of a point guard at the time Tyrone Wallace was departing the program Moore saw a perfect fit with Martin and the Bears. It s a marriage that has worked out fabulously for all parties involved. Despite Cal losing Wallace, as well as Jaylen Brown (to the NBA) and Jordan Mathews (transferring to Gonzaga), the Bears have not missed a beat. A big part for Cal s continued success has been Moore.
Without him, its safe to assume Cal would not be where it finds itself today. He has taken a lot of pressure off stars Ivan Rabb and Jabari Bird. By setting up the offense and getting his teammates in the right spots, he has done more than anyone could have asked of him. Moore s transition to the college game couldn t have been more seamless, and it s time people recognize the job he is doing. He does a great job of lulling opponents into a false sense of security. That s what separates himself from his freshman brethren.
Now we have to wait and see if Moore will miss any significant amount of time, although it does not appear likely. A prolonged absence would significantly hurt Cal s chances to do damage in March. Sure, Sam Singer is a fine backup, and he did an admirable job when Wallace missed some time last year, but there is a major drop-off when Singer is on the court instead of Moore. If Moore was on the court Saturday night in the second half against Arizona, maybe the Bears would have won. Cal s next game isn t until Friday when it travels to Stanford. Of greater importance to the Bears is that they play only one game through February 21. If they need to survive Stanford without Moore, a good injury report will likely mean he ll be back on court for the February 22 game against Oregon. Any Cal fan would happily sign on the dotted line if that s the night Moore returns at 100-percent capacity.
In any event, Moore has made his presence felt this season, and while he is not some one-and done superstar who grabs all the headlines, he has the makeup to be a four-year point guards who continues to mature and grow into a star. Think Frank Mason III at Kansas.
While he is not big on style, Moore is all substance. That s all that matters for Cal.