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Villanova Basketball 2020 Player Recap: Justin Moore

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Immediately pushed into a bigger role due to injuries at the start of the season, Moore relished in his first college season.

NCAA Basketball: St. John at Villanova Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

The Breakdown

With pre-season injuries to Bryan Antoine (recovering from surgery on torn labrum) and Collin Gillespie (broken nose), the world got an early glimpse of newcomer Justin Moore at the USC exhibition game. From there, he continued to have a steady helping of minutes, and became a full-time starter.

He arrived at Villanova as a four-star recruit from DeMatha Catholic (Md.). The praise was high early, with his captains naming him as someone who could turn some heads once the season begins, much like how Saddiq Bey’s debut season went. Moore was able to catch on early, and it translated onto the court come game time.

This season, Moore started in 17 of the 31 games he played in. He was one of five Wildcats who averaged double figures in scoring, finishing with 11.3 points per game (third-highest mark on the team). He also led all freshmen in the conference in scoring during the regular season.

He was named the Big East Freshman of the Week five times throughout the year and became the first player in a decade to earn the conference accolade in three-straight weeks. At the end of the year, he was unsurprisingly an unanimous selection for the Big East All-Freshman Team.

Moore demonstrated a certain fearlessness and confidence when he first set foot on the court, making him appear much more beyond his years. His ability to score was duly noted, capable of hitting his shots from all three levels. He had a certain composure to him that was great to see from a freshman, but he also wasn’t free from his own flaws which mostly seemed to revolve around decision-making and a period where the ball would stop moving once it got in his hands.

However, it was an impressive first season from Moore nonetheless. Aside from his scoring, he also averaged 3.1 rebounds, 1.9 assists, 0.7 steals, 0.3 blocks, and 1.8 turnovers. He knocked down 41.8 percent of his shots on the floor and hit 39.6 percent of his threes from beyond the arc.

After a pair of solid showings at the Myrtle Beach Invitational, Moore started to heat up in December, dialing up a career-high 25-point performance where he took over the La Salle game as a player off the bench. He would find the starting lineup once again at the end of the January.

Towards the end of the season, Moore was having another good stretch of basketball, highlighted by his performances in wins over St. John’s and Seton Hall, where it felt like he couldn’t miss. Unfortunately, we didn’t get to see what he could do in the postseason, since the Big East Tournament was canned before the Wildcats took the court.

Looking Ahead

It was amazing to see Moore hit the ground running and prove to be capable in dealing with a big role right away. By the end of the season, he barely took time off, playing at least 35 minutes in each of the last five games.

He’ll only continue to improve too. Although he didn’t win Big East Freshman of the Year, an honor that went to teammate Jeremiah Robinson-Earl, it’s clear that Moore is well above the others in his class from the conference.

The freshman-to-sophomore jump is a big one for college athletes, as they’ll have a year of experience under their belt—learning the schemes on the court, a year of John Shackleton strength and conditioning, and getting acclimated to the grind of being a student-athlete.

Just like Robinson-Earl, Moore impressed right away, but he hasn’t even hit his fullest potential yet, and it’ll be fun to see him grow next year and beyond.