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Aaron Moore, another ‘Play Their Hearts Out’ success story

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Earlier this week, Jabari Parker — a high school junior from Chicago — was put on the cover of Sports Illustrated, where he was dubbed the “Best high school basketball player since LeBron James.”

And while Parker has the most unique back-story of an elite hoops recruit that I can remember, he’s not the first kid to be dubbed the next LeBron before attending a high school prom. Back in 2005, it was Demetrius Walker who was called “14 going on LeBron.”

That’s a lot of pressure to put on a kid that’s not even in high school yet, and as the terrific book “Play Their Hearts Out” documents, the article was just a part of the reason that Walker went from being “the next LeBron” to coming off the bench for New Mexico.

Walker gets the majority of the attention because he is the guy that had Sports Illustrated write about him as a 14 year old, but the fact of the matter is that the book is about an entire team, and Walker was far from that team’s most heartbreaking story.

That title goes to Aaron Moore. Moore was a 6-foot-7 freshman that worked his way into Compton’s powerhouse Dominguez program, which has produced talents like Tyson Chandler and Brandon Jennings. But Moore’s upbringing was quite upsetting to read about. He was molested by his step-father before he even entered elementary school. He was propositioned — although, according to the book, never assaulted — by convicted child molester and former Dominguez head coach Russell Otis. His mother, who was receiving payouts from Otis for her son to play at Dominguez, tried to get Moore to return to the school to keep the money coming in. He was missing class and games as early as his sophomore season, and when he should have been attending prom and picking a school to attend, Moore was a homeless dropout.

Remember, this is a kid that had a chance to commit to Washington as a freshman in high school.

There is a happy ending to this story, however.

After getting his academics, and his life, in order at a couple of different Junior Colleges, Moore has finally earned himself a Division I scholarship. He signed a letter of intent to play his final two years of eligibility at Portland State in the Big Sky Conference.

Portland State isn’t exactly a gateway to the NBA, which is something that Moore had been promised since he was 13 years old. But it is a way for him to get a college degree. And given what he has been through in his life, it is impossible to call him anything other than a success story.

Image via here.

Rob Dauster is the editor of the college basketball website Ballin’ is a Habit. You can find him on twitter @robdauster.

Auburn suspends leading scorer Canty indefinitely

Auburn guard Kareem Canty (1) screams in pain after being fouled during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game, Saturday, Jan. 16, 2016, in Auburn, Ala. Auburn won 75-70.  (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)
AP Photo/Brynn Anderson
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Prior to Auburn’s game at Georgia Saturday evening, head coach Bruce Pearl announced that leading scorer and starting point guard Kareem Canty has been suspended indefinitely.

Canty’s currently averaging 18.3 points per game and his abilities as a scorer and distributor have been key for the Tigers offensively. When Canty returns to the court remains to be seen, with Pearl noting that Canty may be able to return before the end of the season.

“Kareem has had some strong moments for our team this season,” Pearl said. “He has demonstrated that at the highest level of competition, he can win his matchup.

“However, his effort and attitude have been extremely inconsistent, which led to actions and behavior that are unacceptable. He will step away from the team for a while and may return later in the season. He is suspended indefinitely.”

According to the release Cinmeon Bowers will move into the starting lineup for Auburn, which is now 9-13 overall and 3-7 in SEC play. Auburn’s lost five straight and eight of their last ten games after losing by ten at Georgia Saturday night.

Without him more minutes are available to freshman New Williams, who played 22 minutes against Georgia. Bryce Brown started and played 18 minutes, with Devin Waddell playing 12 minutes off the bench.

Jamal Murray, Tyler Ulis go crazy, No. 20 Kentucky beats Florida by 19

Kentucky's Jamal Murray (23) shoots near Missouri's Ryan Rosburg during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game, Wednesday, Jan. 27, 2016, in Lexington, Ky. (AP Photo/James Crisp)
(AP Photo/James Crisp)
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Jamal Murray scored a career-high 35 points and became the first Kentucky player to hit eight threes in a game since 2010.

Tyler Ulis had 18 points and 11 assists.

As a result, No. 20 Kentucky bounced back Tuesday’s loss to Tennessee — when the Wildcats blew a 21-point lead — as they blew out a good Florida team, 80-61. The final score doesn’t really do the beat down justice, either. Kentucky was up 24-5 seven minutes into the game. The Gators, who look like they may end up being seeded as high as the No. 6 line on Selection Sunday, never had a chance.

If Kentucky was trying to prove a point, they did. I’m not sure if Murray and Ulis make up the nation’s best back court in college basketball, but on Saturday, they looked like the best back court in the entire world. They were awesome.

So awesome, in fact, that they were responsible for 64 of Kentucky’s 80 points tonight.

And that’s where this win can be a bit concerning.

Look, the issue with Kentucky is that they don’t get near enough production out of their front court, and if the knee injury that kept Alex Poythress out of the lineup on Saturday ends up being at all serious, than UK’s most productive big will be out of commission. On Saturday, Kentucky’s front court — minus Derek Willis, who is more of a wing that’s been slotted at the four — finished with a grand total of 10 points, 15 boards and 12 fouls.

That issue isn’t going away just because Ulis and Murray played an unbelievable game against one of the nation’s top five defenses, according to KenPom.com. You don’t buy a house with termites just because you love the way that it’s furnished.

But what this performance shows you is what Kentucky’s ceiling is, what they are capable of on the night’s when their two stars play like stars.

If they get hot at the right time, they can beat anyone in March. Hell, this could be enough to carry them to the Elite 8, maybe further.

When those two can play that well in a season where there is no dominant team, you can’t really count anything out.

But it also means that Kentucky is capable of losing to anyone on any given night, and all it takes is one cold shooting night for Kentucky’s run in March to come to an early end.