Posted: Tuesday April 11, 2006 3:03PM; Updated: Wednesday April 12, 2006 2:18PM
Maya Moore, the nation's premier high school junior, has made a verbal commitment to play basketball for the University of Connecticut. Moore said her decision was heavily influenced by the freedom coach Geno Auriemma allows within his offense.
The athletic, 6-foot wing from Suwanee, Ga., told SI.com, "I really like their style of play. I can really see myself fitting in with their program. I'll probably be a guard in college, but it's not set in stone. I deeply respect coach Auriemma and I have a lot of confidence in the program."
Moore said that it doesn't hurt that UConn has an outstanding tradition, sells out all of its home games and regularly appears on national TV. She looks at past greats such as Sue Bird and Diana Taurasi and "hopes to do them proud and set my own mark."
Collins Hill high coach Tracey Tipton fully supports her star's decision. "I'm excited for her opportunity to play with Tina Charles [this year's girls high school Gatorade Player of the Year, who will enroll in the fall]," Tipton said. "With those two on the court and whoever else [Auriemma] will surround them with, it will be a great situation."
Tipton sees Moore playing a small forward position in college because she not only can shoot the 3, but also is adept at posting up taller players and scoring inside. She has a vertical leap of 26 inches with just one step and can jump higher with a running start.
Moore, who has a 3.75 GPA, chose UConn over Georgia, Tennessee and Duke. As a junior this season, she averaged 23.2 points, 11.3 rebounds, 5.4 steals and five assists while leading the Eagles, who finished the season ranked No. 2 in the SI.com national hoops rankings, to a 31-1 record. She also was the only junior to be named a first-team SI.com All-America.
Moore began writing letters to major colleges as a middle school student and says she decided to make an early announcement because "there were no other questions that needed answering."
Meanwhile, one of Moore's goals for her senior year at Collins Hill is to join the elite group of girls who have dunked in a high school game. She can do it in practice and plans to hone those skills in AAU games this summer.