Charlie Moore’s speed, agility to play major role on Cal men’s basketball team

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After a rollercoaster of a season for the Cal men’s basketball team, next year’s squad figures to have even more questions to answer. Chief among these will be how the Bears hope to replace two of their primary ball handlers, Jaylen Brown and Tyrone Wallace.

Enter Charlie Moore.

At 5 feet 11 inches and 170 pounds, he doesn’t scream big time prospect upon first glance. But while his size may be the sort of thing that eventually holds back his NBA stock, Moore can more than make up for it with his speed, agility and handles in the Pac-12. These skills helped him earn a four-star rating as a recruit and tally more than 25 points a game on average in each of his last two seasons in high school.

Moore should make an impact as a freshman, though he may not start right away with Sam Singer returning after ably running the offense and moving the ball last season. He provides more explosiveness and scoring pop than the often passive Singer did, but Moore’s size will likely make the adjustment on the defensive end a big one. For a team losing its two players best at getting into the lane and to the rim, however, Moore could be a crucial addition right from the go.

The Bears’ offense was often stagnant even with Brown and Wallace, so its prospects looked bleak without any real options who thrived at penetrating and collapsing the defense. To step into this role, Moore will need to establish himself as a credible threat to score both in the lane and off the dribble in general. He flashes the type of talent that could see him excel at just that.

Yes, Moore’s size undoubtedly makes it harder for him to score among the trees in the paint than it would be for someone like Wallace, who is 6 feet 5 inches. Being the shortest one on the court, however, won’t be new to Moore. And, as such, the former Memphis commit has picked up a wide and effective array of ways to score against bigs, especially excelling at hitting his floaters and runners. This goes along with fearlessly jumping into defenders to finish some acrobatic layups or draw fouls, though savvy defenders could turn a lot of those fouls into charges.

Moore has a slick handle and low dribble, which lead to both flashy, ankle-breaking moves — especially with his hesitation move — and reliability at holding onto the ball in traffic. This alone makes Moore tough to keep track of, but his smooth jumper with range that extends beyond the three-point arc will give his defenders some tough choices to make.

These skills are vital for Cal as two of its top returning scorers, Jabari Bird and Jordan Mathews, are prolific three-point shooters and especially flourish on the types of catch-and-shoot plays Moore would be setting up by collapsing defenses. Additionally, Moore’s shooting and slashing give him the potential to be part of a dangerous pick-and-roll pairing with Ivan Rabb.

To best take advantage of his scoring ability, however, Moore needs to add polish as a passer. With Bird, Mathews and Rabb already in tow, Moore will most likely be relied upon to feed his scorers rather than put up points by the bunches. Though he did average seven assists per game his senior year, Moore mostly picked these up by making some easy reads. While this is valuable, he does need to improve his vision somewhat and pass people open rather than passing to open people to fully reach his potential. This comes not only with the actual passes but using one’s eyes and body language to throw defenders off the scent.

While Moore refines his passing ability and defense, he is likely to come off the bench as a freshman, especially with a head coach in Cuonzo Martin who so strongly preaches defense first. In such a role, as a sixth man who is looked to for instant offense, Moore can be explosive and help shore up bench-heavy lineups that looked punchless last season. With Moore, the type of player likely to stick around for more than a year, the Bears seem to have found themselves a valuable building block going forward.

Contact Hooman Yazdanian at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @hoomanyazdanian