He's all that and Moore

Having to describe Jamil Moore in just one word seems easy at first.


It’s a word he uses a lot. And it’s a word his South Kitsap basketball teammates use when talking about him.

But as the 6-4 senior wing talks about what was — a perfect regular season that’s now forgotten — and what lies ahead — a very tough road through the West-Central District tournament, other words come to mind.

Tough. Focused. Funny. And clever.

“He’s a good guy inside,” Moore’s teammate and best friend Derrick Webb said. “Some people might think he’s a tough guy on the outside, but once you get to know him, he’s a great guy.”

Moore has brought a lot to the table this year and is a key reason the Wolves are the state's top-ranked Class 4A team and the Narrows League champs. Having switched positions from guard to wing and taken over the role of the team's top defender, he needed all his skills to get the job done.

“At first, yeah, getting used to playing with the big men (was tough),” Moore said. “I’m liking it now. At first, I wanted to stay outside because I like handling the ball a little bit. But now, it gets me tougher. I enjoy it a lot now.

“Everyone likes to shut down (the opposing team’s) top scorer, and that’s what I like to do,” he said. “It makes you look good.”

Moore has definitely looked good this season, although he started out slowly at first. But through the team's first 20 games, he has averaged 10 points and five rebounds a game.

But it's his intensity on defense that’s helped take him and his team to the top.

“Jamil gives us the toughness we have to have and we can’t get from anyone else on this team,” South coach John Callaghan said. “And obviously, Jamil’s defensive skills are great.

“He’s tough,” Callaghan said. “You have to be tough, and you have to be intense. And he is. And we need that.”

Moore took over for the since-graduated Adam Bennett this year and focused more on his defense. And it was hard at first.

But the young man who didn’t start playing basketball until he was in sixth grade got through it in his usual way.

“Just have to go out there and be ready,” Moore said. “Come out with intensity and play it like you’re playing a normal game.

“I try to be intense,” Moore said. “That’s the main key for me personally — to come out with intensity. That gets the rest of the team going. That’s how we get our scoring, playing off the intensity of our press. That’s how we get our points.”

Moore’s intensity is apparent every time he steps on a court. He takes practice seriously — so serious that he often yells at teammates when something is not done right.

“Jamil is the one that gets after everybody,” teammate and friend Connor McPherson said. “He doesn’t let anyone slack off. He’s not too friendly on the court. He doesn’t play buddies with anyone.”

But off the court, Moore becomes a slightly different person.

“Off the court, Jamil is one of the best friends you could ever have,” McPherson said. “He’ll watch over us and make sure we’re doing everything. He likes to know what we’re all doing after games and stuff to make sure we’re not doing anything stupid.

“Around people he doesn’t know, he doesn’t talk much,” McPherson said. “When he’s with us, he’ll joke around. But he hardly ever jokes around on the court. It’s rare that you’ll see Jamil laugh when he’s on the court. He’s all serious.”

But away from the court he turns into a more laid-back, happy-go-lucky kind of guy who’s not afraid to take some good-natured jabs at everyone — even his coach.

“We’re winning games, so apparently coach did something right,” he said of his position switch.

“Geez, you could make it sound a little better than that,” Callaghan countered.

But that’s Moore away from the court. He is a bit of a cutup, his friends say. Especially when hanging out with Webb and McPherson, driving around in McPherson’s old VW bus.

“I’m a laid-back guy, actually,” Moore said. “I like to have fun and hang out with my friends.”

All of which keeps him loose as the state playoffs approach. The Wolves are looking for their fifth straight trip to the state tournament and Moore said the pressure is all around them.

But he’s ready for it.

“It’s nothing now. It’s 0-0,” Moore said. “We have to play like it might be our last game.”

But when he does play his last game for South, it won’t be his last basketball game. Moore said he will play college ball and he has been getting some looks from area schools like Tacoma Community College, Highline and Olympic.

Callaghan said he’ll make it.

“Oh, no doubt,’ Callaghan said. “It’s just a matter of what level and where.”

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