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Oakland’s Jalen Moore establishes himself as elite guard

Oakland guard Jalen Moore ranks in the top two in the country in assists per game for a second straight season and is a major reason why the Golden Grizzlies could make the NCAA Tournament for the first time in 11 years.

NCAA Basketball: Michigan State at Oakland
Jalen Moore ranks second in the nation with 8.1 assists per contest. The junior-college transfer led the country in that category a season ago.
Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

Oakland guard Jalen Moore can distribute the basketball and is an integral part in Oakland’s quest to return to the NCAA Tournament for the first time in 11 years. And that should come as no surprise.

He sprung onto the mid-major scene last season with his quick dishes and dime passes as well as with his ability to score and rebound. He led the country in assists, averaging 8.4 last season to go along with 17.9 points and 4.1 rebounds. This year, Moore is second in the nation at 8.1 assists per game (behind Saint Louis’ Yuri Collins).

As a 5-11 guard but coming out of high school, Moore was under-recruited, despite making Indiana’s 2018 small school all-state team.

He attended Olney Central College to continue his basketball career, a community college in eastern Illinois. Moore flourished averaging 19.3 points with 7.9 assists per game as just a freshman.

And as a sophomore, Moore’s scoring jumped to 22.6 points and was accompanied by 6.2 assists per game and 5 rebounds per contest. He was selected as a third-team NJCAA DI All-American for that season.

Moore then found his was to the Oakland Golden Grizzlies. He started 29 of 30 games and led Greg Kampe’s squad in points, assists, double-doubles, free throw attempts, free throw makes, and minutes played throughout the 2020-21 season on his way to Horizon League First-Team honors.

He helped lead Oakland to the third seed in the 2021 Horizon League Tournament. Moore was a big part in the team’s run to the championship game, where he scored 22 points and added seven assists in a tough 80-69 loss to Cleveland State.

This season, Moore has Oakland out to a 16-5 start and a 9-1 in conference play, placing them second behind only Cleveland State, despite the Golden Grizzlies picking up a 70-65 road win over the Vikings earlier this year.

To go with his 8.1 assists per game, Moore is also averaging 15.1 points and 4.2 rebounds while leading the Horizon League in minutes played per game at 38.

Including Moore, Oakland currently has three top-10 scorers in the Horizon League with the other two being Marquette grad transfer Jamal Cain and freshman Trey Townsend. Moore can get it done scoring on his own but he also opens things up for his teammates with his ability to dribble, drive and draw defenders leading to lots of kick-out threes with Cain averaging 20.2 points and Townsend at 15.7. Cain and Townsend both rank in the top five in the conference for 3-point percentage.

Moore led the Golden Grizzlies to some huge wins this season, such as a competitive 56-55 road victory against Oklahoma State. He led all scorers with 16 points and six assists in that game. He also helped Oakland win the Gulf Coast Showcase championship with wins over Vermont, Rice and Delaware. He tallied 19 assists in the final two games of the tournament.

Oakland is slated to play its next four games on the road before closing out the regular season with five straight home games. Moore will cement himself as one of the top players in the Horizon League as he leads the Golden Grizzlies through this stretch and into the postseason.