Every morning, like clockwork, Jai Moore dons her running outfit, laces up her sneakers and leaves her apartment in Spring Creek Towers (SCT) to practice basketball drills. Since she was five years old, her mother has helped train her to be the very best in the sport. Whether it is working on her fitness or practicing with friends at Spring Creek Teen Central, Moore has always been determined to use basketball to further her education, training her mind just as much as her body.
All of her hard work paid off in October 2015, when she received a full ride basketball scholarship to Niagara University. For years, Moore has trained to get this prestigious offer. In fact, she worked so hard building herself as a basketball player that she achieved many accolades, such as being named MVP after her junior season at Midwood High School.
Moore’s years of training was put to the test during her last year of high school, when she traveled with the American Athletic Union (AAU) to seven different states competing in front of college coaches. “I went up against girls highly recommended from all over the country trying to get picked,” said Moore. She explained that despite the high stakes, she was not nervous because she believed in herself. Her confidence and skill stood out to Niagara University head coach, Jada Pierce, and other prospective coaches offered her full ride basketball scholarships. However, she decided on Niagara University because she believed Pierce was the best coach for her.
According to the university’s website, Pierce felt the same about Moore stating: “Jai is a player that caught my eye the first time I watched her this summer,” Pierce said. “She is a tough New York City guard with the ability to attack the rim and create for herself and for others which is something we knew we needed in our program. Jai fits very well with the up-tempo style in which we want to play.”
Moore credits her mother’s continuous tutelage and support for her success. “I couldn’t have gotten this far without my mother. She would come to all of my games, critique my performance and encourage me to let basketball take me as far as it can,” Moore said. She admits that seeing her mother work so hard to care for her family, and have a fulltime career in homeland security made her want to do more. “I didn’t want my mom to have to pay for my college education, so I worked hard to make sure basketball would do that,” she said.
Although the 5’9 shooting and point guard doesn’t start her first semester until the fall, Moore has spent the summer training at her college and taking a few summer undergraduate classes. “My mom always taught me books before basketball,” she said, explaining her eagerness to start college work.
At the moment, she does not have a favorite basketball team; however, she admires Cleveland Cavaliers’ Point Guard, Kyrie Irving because he plays the same position as her with amazing skill and precision. Moore is not sure what the future may hold, perhaps she will play for the WNBA, coach a high school basketball team or follow in her mother’s footsteps and work with homeland security. No matter what path she chooses, she knows her future will be a successful and bright one.
Photo courtsey of Upstate Scout Via Twitter