Prep traveler packs for Rhode Island
Benson grad JR Moore succeeds in academic and athletic 'mission'
JR Moore calls it 'mission accomplished,' his yearlong adventure at Worcester Academy in Massachusetts.
Moore, a 2002 graduate of Benson High, went to Worcester last summer to improve his academics and earn a basketball scholarship at an NCAA Division I school.
He didn't know how to say the school name (it rhymes with rooster) and didn't know much about the academics, but he thought that it was the way to get to a major college basketball program.
He succeeded: He will attend the University of Rhode Island on a basketball scholarship.
'I got what I went there for,' he says during a workout at Benson.
Moore, a 6-9 forward, was the sixth man on a team that won the New England Prep School regional tournament title and sent eight players to NCAA Division I schools Ñ including players headed for Boston College and Providence of the Big East Conference.
Playing with so many top athletes, Moore mostly focused on his defense. In the New England regional final, he had four points, five rebounds and two steals as his team won 91-84.
He also improved his strength, bumping his bench press maximum from 210 to 240 pounds.
He learned how to tie a tie, too.
'Someone finally showed me how to work a tie after about a month,' Moore says with a laugh. 'It was a very strict place. We had study halls at night, and we had to be in bed at 11 p.m. I didn't watch much television, didn't watch much basketball. It was kind of like a prison.
'And it was cold. Really cold. They said it was the coldest winter they'd had in years.'
Kevyn Green, a 2003 Benson grad, is headed to Worcester Academy later this year.
Moore says the coaches at Rhode Island are comfortable with his defensive mind-set and won't pressure him to score early on.
'They don't have a shot-blocker, so that's going to be my role,' he says. 'A lot of people don't like to focus on defense, but I do.'
At Rhode Island, Moore will join a program voted 'most improved' by the New England Basketball Coaches Association after it finished 19-12 and reached the second round of the NIT. The Rams had lost 20 games a year for three straight seasons.
Moore says he picked Rhode Island after visiting the school early in the fall and meeting second-year coach Jim Baron, who had been head coach at St. Francis or St. Bonaventure since 1987.
After meeting Moore, Baron flew to Portland the next day to meet his mother, Connie Jenkins.
'That really impressed my mom,' Moore says. 'That impressed me, too.'
Moore passed on offers to visit other schools, such as Massachusetts and George Washington, and committed to the Rams.
Baron, voted coach of the year in the Atlantic 10 Conference, has to replace only three seniors next season.
Moore will suit up next season against his former coach, Morgan 'Mo' Cassara, who left Worcester shortly after the prep season to become an assistant at the University of Dayton. The Flyers won the Atlantic 10 tourney and played in the NCAA Tournament.
Moore plans to major in public relations.
'I really enjoyed meeting all the new people and making a lot of contacts,' he says. 'I think the experience really helped me, and I'm excited about the next four years at Rhode Island.
'Hopefully, if things go well, I can get paid to play at some point in the future.'