Solid Gold: Aaliyah Moore Relishes Championship with USA Women's Basketball TeamAug 05, 2019
The summer of 2019 has been anything but ordinary for Moore High junior Aaliyah Moore. While the majority of students got the chance to catch their breath after final exams in May and maybe think about some vacation, Moore spent part of June competing in the 2019 FIBA (International Basketball Association) Americas U16 Championship tournament in Puerto Aysen, Chile. The team was dominant in the tournament, going undefeated and beating Canada 87-36 in the gold medal game.
It was the first time out of the country for Moore and an experience she said she will never forget.
“It was incredible,” said Moore. “I never would have had the chance to go there if it weren’t for the team and tournament and it was amazing trying their foods and meeting the people. They were really sweet and treated us like celebrities.”
The trip and the gold medal were a great payoff to the hard work it took just to make the team. Shortly after school was out Moore for four weeks of training camp and tryouts. Moore said she loved the experience, which taught her never to give up.
“There were lots of times when I wanted to give up,” said Moore. “Especially when it hit the last 18 (players before final cuts) and we had to come back for two weeks of training camp. It was so stressful and I was scared because I didn’t want to be one of the last 6 girls cut. I called my mom and my grandmom and they really supported me.”
When the final cuts were made, and Moore was on the team, it gave her a profound boost of confidence to realize that she was in elite company.
“It’s crazy to actually do it, to make the team,” said Moore. “It really helps me with my confidence to know that I’m playing with the best. I got to meet girls who are the best in their class, and I’m we’re friends now. I have these great relationships with them.”
Moore, who will begin her junior year in August, said that what she’s experienced this summer goes beyond just a feeling of confidence. The hard work in tryouts and practices with the best players in her age group from across the country has helped improve her game.
“I think I’ve seen the most improvement in my shot,” said the 6’1” Moore. “A lot of people tend to say that taller girls can’t shoot the ball that well so that’s something that I’ve really been working on this summer, expanding my game outside the three-point line.”
That improvement has caught the eye of college coaches across the country. Shortly after she returned from the FIBA tournament in Chile, Moore’s Twitter feed began lighting up with announcements about D1 programs from across the country. The University of Missouri offered Moore a basketball scholarship on July 13th. One day later the University of North Carolina and Southern California made their offers. Georgia and Alabama offered her a full ride on July 16th. The expectation is that the offers will continue to come in as Moore goes through her junior year at Moore High School.
“It’s really cool to experience this,” said Moore. “I’m just appreciating that a lot of kids don’t get the chance to experience this, so I’m just taking it day-by-day, thanking God for all of this, and my family for being so supportive and getting me to these tournaments.”
Though the future calling, Moore seems very grounded and ready for her junior year at MHS.
“I love being a Moore Lion,” said Moore. “We’re the original Moore. I love my friends, the basketball team, the teachers. Everyone’s so sweet.”
Reading and language art classes are at the top of Moore’s favorites list. She said she loves books, writing, talking, and everything that goes along with communication. She’s also grateful for the great teachers she’s had. She’s also excited about making it into the National Honor Society and becoming a member of FUSE (Freshmen Utilizing Senior Experience). As a FUSE member, Moore will be one of those upperclassmen who will come alongside incoming freshmen, helping them adjust to the high school experience.
“I just want the incoming freshmen to know that if you see me, don’t be afraid to come to say ‘hi’” said Moore.
Of course, Moore and her Lady Lions teammates have their eyes set on lofty goals for the 2019-2020 basketball season. The 2019 season ended in the area tournament for MHS, something this year’s team hopes to surpass.
“Just thinking about how far we got last year,” said Moore. “We finally won our John Nobles Tournament for the first time since like 1999 and made it to the area round of the playoffs. I think this year the expectation is that get past area. We obviously want to win a championship and get that big trophy and some rings, so our expectations are pretty high.”
As for downtime, Moore said the thing she values most is relaxing with her family, going out to dinner or hanging out at her grandmother’s house. She and her mom are also binge-watching dome old television series on Netflix.
“My mom and I are watching Dynasty,” said Moore, “And I’m watching Grey’s Anatomy. All 15 seasons.”’
After a summer of competing on the world basketball stage and with the attention of D1 college programs from across the country turning their eyes toward her, Moore said it’s her family and faith that really keep her grounded as the expectations continue to rise.
“The most important thing for me is my family,” said Moore. “We’re very close. Every holiday we’re at my grandmother’s house. They’re my support system. I couldn’t do anything without them.”
And as a family, faith plays a crucial role in cementing their closeness.
“Walk by faith, not by sight is a big thing,” said Moore. “It’s big in our family. We wouldn’t be here without God and everything we do is because of Him, so we’re blessed that He provides for us. I feel very blessed.”