Originally posted on Fox Sports West  |  Last updated 12/8/11
USC freshman guard Alexis Moore is a typical Southern California kid. He loves everything from the beach to the Lakers, but however he wants to describe himself, it doesn't change the fact that the Long Beach Poly grad has been thrust into a situation that is far from typical. As a senior, Moore averaged 9.7 points, 5.1 rebounds and 4.1 assists at Long Beach Poly and was subsequently named to the Best in the West Second Team by the Long Beach Press Telegram. He was ranked by Cali High Sports as the No. 14 player in the state. The 6-foot-2, 180-pound guard helped lead the Jack Rabbits to a Southern Section Division I-AA championship and the California state quarterfinals where they fell, 72-55, to Mater Dei, ending the season 31-2 which was enough to be ranked No. 13 nationally. He scored a team-high 17 points to lead Poly past fellow USC freshman Byron Wesley's Etiwanda squad, 66-63 in the quarterfinals of the CIF Southern California Regional state playoffs. Moore signed with USC, becoming one of only three true freshmen on the 2011-12 squad. He was also walked into what some would call an unsavory situation. The team would be rebuilding after a self-instituted scholarship reduction, early departures to the NBA and graduating seniors. Head coach Kevin O'Neill would be back at square one. That is the pessimists way of looking at it, albeit the truth. Then there is Moore's way of looking at it. "SC has it all to be honest. When KO sat me down in his office he told me this is a place where I going to get a great education. I was going to be with great people in terms of on campus and networks and connections,"said Moore. "And basketball wise there was going to be opportunities for me to play. I didn't think that I was going to be able to come in and get 20-30 minutes a game, but he did expect to be able to come in and at least be to help and contribute to the team right away." Moore thought his initial contribution would be closer to 10-15 minutes a game, subbing in and learning from current guards Jio Fontan and Maurice Jones. Those two were supposed to the be corner stones as the rest of the upperclassmen in the 8-9 man rotation were transfers and were going to be just as new to the cardinal and gold hard court as Moore. When Fontan was ruled out for the season after tearing his ACL in an exhibition game against a Brazilian professional team, Moore wasn't given much of a choice. There was going to be little to no room for rookie mistakes anymore despite have a team full of them. "The upperclassmen on my team, they are my team mates, and they've done a great job in helping me pick up the pace so to speak. As I've said my times, my learning curve here, is going to have to be accelerated with Jio unfortunately going down,"said Moore. "But even Jio himself has done a great job to pick me up and bring me along and kind of made it to where the transition from high school into college is much easier." Though Fontan's physical presence is missing, the senior guard has tried to fill the hole with by giving his leadership and knowledge to those like Moore. "He'll give me things that will run the offense or make the defense a little bit crisper so I really appreciate all of his advice." The results have been mixed. USC is currently 4-5 as they head into this Saturday's contest versus New Mexico at home. Their last win was a 56-35 rout of UC Riverside. Moore was the second-leading scorer with 10 points. So far, Moore is averaging 22.4 minutes, 3.9 points and 1.6 rebounds per game this season. They are modest numbers which Moore is looking to improve. In trying to get to the next level, Moore has seen the biggest change on the defensive side of his game. "I've definitely picked up KO's system in terms of defense. He says it's the easiest system in the world and it kind of is. When you really learn what he wants in terms of structure wise it is easy to pick up on it," said Moore. "That doesn't mean I'm perfect at it, as you can see, I made several mistakes in practice. But I would definitely say my defense has gotten a lot crisper than it was in high school." The Trojans are not lacking in good defensive play. Since the start of the season, the one thing that was evident is that KO knew how to coach defense and the Trojans knew how to execute his plan. But was has been constantly plaguing the Trojans is their overall level of offense. If Jones doesn't put up good numbers, the rest of the team has struggled to make up for it. But Moore knows that needs to change if the team ever wants to see a winning record. "My job is to make plays. Whether that is off Mo's penetration or I'm catching and then shooting or if that's off dribble drives and I'm kicking it off to someone, offensively I just need to make plays and take my shots and make them when I get them,"said Moore. But he knows that it's not up to him alone. "I trust that my teammates will get me open, get me the ball if I do happen to get an open shot. Offense, I know it will come, especially with how we play defensive. It will give us a lot of opportunities so that we just have to go down and execute and convert." It's a good sign for the Trojans, and their offensive struggles, that Moore's biggest NBA idol is Chris Paul because of the affect the pro guard's play has on the people around him. "He's probably my favorite point guard in terms of the ability he has to make everyone around him better." If Moore can be that man for the Trojans, along with Jones' ability, USC could turn around its struggles before they get too deep into conference play. It will still take time become a Chris Paul. According to Moore, he used to be more of a Rajon Rondo. "In high school I would come down and my first instinct was always to pass and not shoot." But Moore is learning. Both on and off court, the freshman is working on having a well balanced attack. "The one thing about college -- especially from Poly coming here -- the one thing I was worried about was, was I going to be able to balance everything with school and basketball and how that was going work. Especially my early years at Poly, I definitely struggled especially with the school part, just trying to juggle everything when I first got introduced to AP classes." Moore has to admit, the people around him have made the entire experience a worthwhile one. The southern California native thinks college is pretty darn fun. And if he can help USC find a winning record again, under the circumstances, he'll have to find a new adjective to describe himself, but this is a job that will require more than just your typical guy.
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