When it was announced that SMU point guard Nic Moore would be joining the Kansas basketball team this summer as it represents the United States in the World University Games, some people were caught by surprise and wondered how it would work. The Jayhawks, who won’t bring Cheick Diallo (Mali), Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk (Ukraine) and Dwight Coleby (Bahamas) on the trip, have a point guard in Frank Mason and the dynamic of working in a new player can be a tricky one.
However it helps matters that in Moore, Kansas will have one of the top point guards in the country at their disposal in South Korea. Moore won Player of the Year honors in the American Athletic Conference as he led SMU to the regular season and postseason titles, so he has some solid credentials on his resume.
And according to the Lawrence Journal-World, despite arriving in Lawrence for practices Friday he’s already made quite the impression on Kansas head coach Bill Self.
“I learned he’s a leader. He got there halfway through practice, walked in and acted like he owned the place. That’s exactly what best players in leagues do,” KU coach Bill Self told the Journal-World after a two-hour World University Games team practice and orientation of his Friday/Saturday Parent/Child camp.
“I’m going to really enjoy coaching him. Our players are going to really enjoy playing with him,” Self added of the 5-foot-9, Winona Lake, Indiana, native who led the Mustangs in scoring (14.5 ppg), assists (5.1) and steals (1.3) his junior season.
“I think Nic can help them all,” Self said of the 11 Jayhawk players, who, along with Moore, complete KU’s Team USA roster for the University Games, July 3-14 in Gwangju, South Korea. “We’ve got good players, but we haven’t had anybody that’s been Player of the Year in the league. Nic is Player of the Year in the American Conference, a great league. SMU won it last year.”
The player who stands to benefit the most from the addition of Moore is rising junior point guard Frank Mason III, who made noticeable strides as a sophomore and will be asked to take on an even greater leadership role this winter. Mason averaged 12.6 points, 3.9 rebounds and 3.9 assists per game last season, giving Kansas a level of consistency at the point that they’ve lacked in recent years.
While representing one’s country is a great honor that cannot be overlooked, this trip can also be used as a springboard by Mason, his new sidekick at the point and the rest of the roster. The first chance to see how they’re progressing in game action comes June 23, when the team plays the first of two exhibitions against Canada.