WHEN RICHARD MOSLEY REALIZED HIS 10-YEAR-OLD SON, SEAN, HAD A PASSION—AND A precocious talent—for basketball, the reverend and former Army drill sergeant offered what he thought was a piece of crucial wisdom. "I told him, 'The Lord has blessed you, and you have to do right with these blessings,' " says Mosley, " 'because just as easily as he gave them to you, he'll take them away.' "
As Sean matured as a player, he seemed to take his father's lesson to heart, building a reputation not only as an explosive scorer but as a hard worker blossoming into a star at St. Frances Academy in Baltimore. His father, a self-described "no-nonsense guy," mother and four older siblings were all around to look after him. "I was always on a straight path," he says. That path led him to wind up his St. Frances career as the second-leading scorer in the history of Maryland high school hoops.
Sean was thrilled to get the chance to play for the Terrapins, the team he grew up watching. After a successful freshman year in which he played in all 35 games, he became a solid contributor in his second season, averaging 10.1 points, hitting 51% of his shots and finishing second on the team with 5.1 rebounds per game. His penchant for doing the team's dirty work—diving for loose balls, crashing the offensive glass and playing lockdown defense—led to his being named co-captain for the 2010--11 season.
Mosley's star seemed poised to rise even further last season. But last January, after a five game stretch in which he averaged 6.8 points and 2.0 turnovers, he found himself benched for the first time in 66 games. He had become hesitant and inconsistent, often passing up open shots. His point totals for a six-game stretch in January and early February read like random lottery numbers: 0, 16, 6, 7, 20, 10. "[Coach Gary Williams] kept asking, 'What's wrong with Sean?' " Mosley's father recalls.
Mosley isn't sure why he seemed to lose his focus on basketball. He hesitates when talking about game-day mornings, saying, "It was kind of hard to ... I wouldn't say hard to get up, but it wasn't the same feeling as my freshman or sophomore year."
He is using the memory of that unpleasant feeling, as well as the distaste left by his own and the team's disappointing performance, as motivation. "We didn't live up to the legacy of Maryland basketball last season," he says. "Now we come in here and play as many pickup games as we can. We go as hard as we can."
Though he refuses to make predictions about the season ("I won't feel comfortable until the first game starts," he says), and though his father says that Sean was initially devastated by Williams's departure, it has become clear that a new staff and a fresh start is a welcome change for the 22-year old.
Incoming coach Mark Turgeon is depending upon Mosley to provide veteran leadership, and after watching him in team workouts Turgeon calls Mosley "polished and driven."
For his part Mosley appears eager to deliver for his new boss. "Coach Turgeon is a winning coach who takes every possession seriously," he says. "If you're trying to get the win, you have to mind your mistakes."
And, as his father might remind him, it's important to mind your blessings as well.