After four years in the NCAA Div. 1 basketball world, former Bellevue (Wash.) High ace shooter Zack Moore has brought a more expansive game north of the line to the UBC Thunderbirds. (Photo by Bob Frid property of UBC athletics 2019. All Rights Reserved)
Feature University Men's Basketball

As ‘Birds prepare Friday welcome for Dinos at War, UBC coach Hanson calls new NCAA D1 transfer Zack Moore “…our secret golden nugget”

VANCOUVER — Zack Moore is more, more, more than just a three-point shooter.

And while UBC head coach Kevin Hanson certainly appreciates the rare opportunity to bring in a fourth-year, NCAA Div. 1-transfer who has already proven he can step outside the arc and get his fill from distance, it seems quite clear that the Thunderbirds feel they have something even more substantial on their hands.

In fact over the next two seasons, Hanson feels their is a chance to help the 6-foot-5, 200-pound guard out of Bellevue, Wash., via Seattle University and the UC Santa Barbara Gauchos evolve into a true, international-style stat-sheet stuffer.

“With the change in style (from NCAA to U Sports) I wish I had this guy for more than two years,” mused Hanson on Tuesday after practice as the 2-0 Thunderbirds, coming off a weekend sweep at Regina, prepared to face the conference powerhouse Calgary Dinos (0-0) in their Canada West-opening weekend series Friday (8 p.m.) and Saturday (7 p.m.) at War Memorial Gymnasium.

“People are going to like the way Zack plays,” Hanson continued, “because he’s got size, he can guard bigger guards and even posts.”

With true basketball irony Hanson adds of the U.S.-born and trained Moore: “I look at him and he seems designed to be that interchangeable, international-style player.”

Ask Moore about his past rep, and he doesn’t dispute the fact that, when you can stick the deep dagger like he showed he could over the course of his NCAA career, roles become ingrained.

“I think that I have been able to shoot it my entire career, so people see that as your role,” said Moore, who in his sophomore season at Div. 1 Seattle University knocked down 74 treys at a 38 per cent clip with the Redhawks while averaging 10.4 ppg.

“But in my redshirt year at Santa Barbara, I worked on a lot of different things,” he continued. “I developed the rest of my game and brought it here. I want to show that I can play off the dribble, and do more than just catch-and-shoot threes. (At UBC) I feel I can have a bigger effect on the floor.”

One thing that is certain, is once UBC gets its entire rotation on the floor and in synch with each other, its ability to find mismatches will only be further enhanced by Moore’s presence.

Of course the road to quick chemistry is only enhanced by the fact that in the 2015-16 season, when Moore was a Redhawks’ freshman, two of his teammates were then-sophomore Jadon Cohee and then-redshirt junior Manroop Clair. Moore even played another season with Clair in 2016-17. He then spent two seasons at Santa Barbara, seeing game acton last season with the Gauchos, but electing to come north for 2019-20 in part to gain his Master’s degree, and to get two more years of basketball eligibility versus just the one more he had remaining in the NCAA.

In the transition from NCAA to FIBA-based rules, UBC’s Zack Moore is thriving early in the U Sports environment, registering the first double-digit rebounding game of his university career last Saturday in Regina. (Photo by Bob Frid property of UBC athletics 2019. All Rights Reserved)

The ability to reunite with his former Redhawks’ teammates, spurred by Cohee’s urging, played a big role in bringing Moore up north as that rare U.S.-born NCAA Div. 1 transfer.

And perhaps even ahead of schedule, everything Hanson could see in Moore’s ability to expand his game seemed to come true over the weekend in the ‘Birds sweep of the Cougars in Regina.

In his very first Canada West game, Moore got a start and 26 minutes from Hanson and made the most of it: Nine points, six rebounds, five assists, two steals and no turnovers, and he only took three three-pointers (1-of-3).

That is stat-sheet stuffing.

Then on Saturday, in another start, he logged 33 minutes and went 4-of-5 from downtown, turning in a double-double performance with 14 points and 10 rebounds.

Those 10 rebounds jump off the page, and afterwards, they were meaningful to Moore.

“I have really gotten into the habit of boxing out, but that was the first double-double in my college career,” said Moore. “I’d never had 10 rebounds before.”

And thus the U.S. kid, who spent four seasons within the NCAA Div. 1 model, is now seeing how much bigger the basketball world actually is by opening his mind and playing in Canada.

He’s studying for a Master’s from the renowned Sauder School of Business, and he’s playing with tremendous B.C.-born talents like Cohee, Clair, Grant Shephard and Mason Bourcier.

“Jadon is the guy who brought this up to me,” said Moore of getting some northern hoops exposure in Vancouver. “He said ‘You will love it up here’ and he said ‘You will get shots.’ He told me that coach Hanson lets guys play and he wasn’t lying.

“Coaches a lot of time try to over-coach,” Moore adds, speaking in general. “They try to force players to do one thing. Coach Hanson, he gives us the freedom to play. I could have never guessed I’d be playing in Canada, but here I am and I’m learning a lot.”

UBC head coach Kevin Hanson envisions new transfer guard Zack Moore (right), seen here teaming with Grant Shephard in an August game against Cal State Bakersfield, as an international-style multi-dimensional player. (Photo by Bob Frid property of UBC athletics 2019. All Rights Reserved)

For his part Hanson is eager to see what is ultimately possible.

“He is a perimetre guy that we can play at the four spot, a guy who can take bigger guys outside and then shoot the three,” Hanson said of the ways in which Moore may be able to transcend traditional matchups. “He can guard the four-spot now, but because he has such a high basketball IQ, he’s a guy that allows us to switch a lot of pick-and-rolls. He will be significant at both ends of the floor for us.

“My expectations are very high, and I am still not sure what his ceiling can be, but he will be our secret golden nugget.”

UBC’s women will also look to improve on their 2-0 record Friday when they face visiting Calgary at 6 p.m. The same two teams meet at 5 p.m.Saturday.

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