Morehead State point guard Xavier Moon recently joined some elite company when he recorded his first career triple-double against Central Arkansas on December 19.
Moon recorded 25 points, 11 assists and 10 rebounds during that game and is one of 23 players in the country this season to have recorded a triple-double. He joined the likes of Elfrid Payton, Kris Dunn, Denzel Valentine and Dennis Smith Jr. to tally at least 25 points, 11 assists and 10 rebounds in a game since 2010.
“I didn’t know that,” Moon told Basketball Insiders. “I’m at a loss for words. Just knowing Elfrid Payton is with the Magic. Denzel Valentine is with the Bulls. Just being on that list, I’m honored myself.”
It’s that sort of production that the senior brought to his team each night this season. He was the leader on the court and the Eagles seemingly always had a chance to win when he was firing on all cylinders. Moon averaged 16 points, 4.6 assists, 3.5 rebounds and 1.2 steals per game this season for Morehead State and was named to the All-Ohio Valley Conference First Team.
Moon’s college career came to an end on Thursday following the Eagles’ 75-69 loss to Murray State in the Ohio Valley Conference Tournament. They entered the tournament as the third seed after posting a 10-6 record in conference play. Moon recorded 16 points, six assists, four rebounds and two steals in that game.
Moon led his team in points, assists, steals and three-pointers made this season. He finished eighth in the Ohio Valley Conference in scoring, fifth in assists, second in assist-to-turnover ratio and eighth in three-point percentage. His triple-double was the first in school history and the 15th in conference history.
“After I got the triple-double, and I looked at the stats, we won by a good margin,” Moon said. “I was thinking if I bring this every night with everything else our team brings then we can really win. That night I was chasing every rebound, I’m hitting the open guys and I was also scoring. I wasn’t really focused on myself but at some point, you have to say, ‘Okay, now it’s time for me to do what I need to do to help us win.’ If doing that will help us win, I’m trying to do that every night.”
Moon grew up in a bit of a different situation than most players. He watched as his uncle, Jamario Moon, made a name for himself in the NBA. He had stints with the Toronto Raptors, Miami HEAT, Cleveland Cavaliers, Los Angeles Clippers and Charlotte Bobcats. He averaged 6.3 points and 4.3 rebounds in 286 career games.
Jamario Moon is the ultimate example for young players that have dreams of playing in the NBA. Although he went undrafted in 2001, he eventually made his NBA debut in 2007. After college, he bounced around between the NBA D-League, ABA, World Basketball Association, Continental Basketball Association and the International Basketball League before eventually catching the eye of the Raptors in a free agent mini-camp.
Xavier Moon looks to his uncle for advice and guidance on his journey to becoming a professional basketball player. The two talk every day and will often dissect how Xavier played in a specific game or what he needs to do differently in certain situations. They talk about more than basketball as well, including topics like school and life in general.
“He was huge for me growing up,” Xavier Moon said. “Watching him, being around him all of the time [and] talking to him. With him being in the league, he gave me a lot of insight into what it’s all about – how hard you got to work and what you got to bring to the table day in and day out. He just tried to make sure that I stayed on top of what I need to do so I can be the player I am today.”
Having been around virtually every level of professional basketball, Jamario Moon is a great mentor for Xavier as he prepares for the next level. With as many connections as Jamario has from his playing days, Xavier figures to be set up well in the coming weeks as he prepares for the NBA pre-draft process. While Jamario has been instrumental to Xavier off of the court, the two haven’t shied away from facing off against each other on the court.
“We are two totally different players,” Xavier Moon said. “He’s a small forward. He shoots it but I shoot it way better than he does. He’s more of an above-the-rim type of guy. I can be above the rim but I prefer finesse or contact.
“Lately, he’s been a little tough on me because he started playing more of the NBA-style defense; not letting me get my shots off. I’ve been trying to work on that. He’s been telling me in the NBA, it’s all about getting spacing.”
Moon’s final year in college proved to be quite a season. Although the team finished with a 14-16 overall record, it doesn’t paint the full picture of the season. Head coach Sean Woods resigned from his position in December after two players said in a court affidavit that they had altercations with him in the locker room.
One player said Woods backhanded him in the chest while the other player said Woods shoved him once during a timeout and again after a game at Evansville on November 19. Woods was suspended by the university three days after that game and was later charged with misdemeanor battery.
Following his resignation, the Eagles dropped their next six games and fell to 2-8 on the season. The team was adjusting to a new system under interim head coach Preston Spradlin and still recovering from the fallout of the prior altercations. A win against Central Arkansas turned the season around as they went 11-4 in their next 15 games.
“Man, it hit hard,” Moon said. “It took us a pretty good amount of time to actually adjust to the whole coaching situation. Getting used to the new coach, the new offense, defense. We went through a little span where we weren’t even winning any games. It gets to the point where you just start to question yourselves and question the coach. Like, is this really even working? We’re doing everything you say but we’re still not winning. We just had to grit it out and just trust the process. We just took it one day at a time. That’s all we can do from that point.”
Now that the season is over, Moon will turn his attention to preparing for the NBA draft. He’ll spend the majority of his free time working out and improving his game as much as he can. Fortunately for him, he has his uncle on his side and can learn from someone who made a name for himself in the NBA.
As Jamario Moon showed, hard work and determination goes a long way in making it to the NBA. Xavier Moon would like to follow in his footsteps, but with perhaps fewer detours along the way.
Make sure to follow Basketball Insiders on Twitter at @BBallInsiders.