Erwin senior Malik Moore electrified a lot of Western North Carolina gyms the past few years.
By those standards, Thursday morning’s college-signing ceremony was a little subdued.
Moore is believed to be the first Warriors senior to sign with a Division I men’s basketball program in 20 years. He inked a national letter-of-intent to play for USC-Upstate with family, friends and teammates looking on inside the high school media center.
“It means a lot, this was always something that I dreamed about,” Moore said.
“Not only did I want to do it for myself, but to prove to others that you can grow up in Asheville and play Division I basketball. I really felt comfortable (at USC Upstate). It was the best choice for me.”
Moore will easily go down as one of the most-acclaimed players to ever wear an Erwin jersey.
He scored 1,397 career points and averaged 18.3 per game this past season for the Co-Mountain Athletic Conference 3-A champion Warriors (19-8). Moore also contributed 7.6 rebounds and 3.4 assists per night, allowing the 6-foot-5 wing to receive All-MAC, Citizen-Times All-WNC and N.C. Basketball Coaches all-district honors.
Moore was a Blue-White All-Star and will play in this summer’s East-West All-Star game as well. The 2014 All-WNC Player of the Year received competing offers from Appalachian State, The Citadel, Radford, Tennessee Tech, Western Kentucky and Winston-Salem State.
“It’s such an honor to have a kid like this sign,” Erwin coach David Rhoney said.
“It’s a tribute to not only the sacrifices that Malik has made, but the sacrifices that his family has made. As a coach, this is just a huge deal.”
Longtime Erwin athletic director David Ball is retiring on June 1 after 36 years at the Buncombe County school. And to the best of his knowledge, 1995 graduate Tony Robinson (South Alabama) is the last Erwin senior to sign with a Division I men’s basketball program.
Rashad McCants only played two seasons for Erwin before the future University of North Carolina recruit transferred to New Hampshire Prep in 2000.
Signing-ceremonies are never something to take for granted.
And Rhoney and Erwin will do it all over again Friday when they recognize Emory & Henry (Va.) recruit Alic Wynn with his own event.
Wynn is a 6-5 forward. He earned All-MAC, All-WNC and NCBCA all-district recognition in light of averaging 14.3 points and 8.3 rebounds a game. Wynn joined Moore in the March 21 Blue-White All-Star game and said the two have been teammates with Erwin, AAU or other kinds of ball since elementary school.
“It’s super-exciting to know you are going to the next level with one of your best friends,” Wynn said.
“It was a really tough decision for me, but I felt like (Emory & Henry) had a great environment. They really have a solid program, and I’m looking forward to working with the coaches and players.”