Richard Davenport covers recruiting for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. He is the host of Recruiting Thursday, a weekly radio show that airs from 7 to 8 p.m. on 92.1 FM in Fayetteville; 93.7 FM in Little Rock; 95.3 FM in Fort Smith; 96.3 FM in Hot Springs; 104.3 FM in Harrison/Mountain Home; and 106.9 FM in Arkadelphia.
The Recruiting Guy:
Recruit boosts his game thanks to big brother
Chris Moore runs Friday, April 12, 2019, during play at Fayetteville High School.
NORTH AUGUSTA, S.C. — The end of the prestigious Peach Jam basketball tournament this weekend will be bittersweet for University of Arkansas forward target Chris Moore and his brother Alvin Hawkins.
Moore, 6-6, 220 pounds, of West Memphis is one of the top prospects in the nation, while Hawkins, 35, is an assistant coach for the school.
Hawkins, who played tight end at Memphis, has been a major influence on his younger brother’s life.
While an assistant at West Memphis East Junior High for four years, Hawkins said Moore started the path toward being a college prospect.
“He was probably 9 or 10 years old when he started going to the gym and I was a middle school coach,” Hawkins said. “He would ride his bike up there and just be a gym rat.”
During his early years, Moore wasn’t a shoe-in to play basketball.
“We were really trying to find out what he wanted to do; by me playing football he kind of gravitated to that first,” Hawkins said. “He was good, but I guess he wasn’t too consumed with it.”
Hawkins also was a spring and summer basketball coach for older kids, but he wanted someone to mentor Moore in his first year of summer basketball while in the fourth grade.
Former Memphis Whitehaven coach and recently hired Vanderbilt assistant Faragi Phillips was the first to coach Moore.
“That was the first AAU team, first summer team he played for,” Hawkins said. “That was kind of like the beginning. He was one of the first guys I trusted with Chris other than myself.”
The following year was when Hawkins thought Moore’s ability could lead to a future in basketball. Moore helped his team defeat perennial powerhouse We All Can Go in pool play and the championship game of the Tennessee AAU state tournament in Memphis.
“At that time, it was kind of like a turning point because Chris had a monster game,” Hawkins said. “He had like 22 points and 15 rebounds.”
Soon afterwards, Moore knew life in the gym would be in his future.
“I fell I love with the game probably in the seventh or eighth grade year,” Moore said.
Moore received the push and tough love from his brother that’s often needed. He remembers fondly when Hawkins chided him while playing three age groups up in a tournament in Alabama.
“I was playing the wing at the time and he was going off on me,” Moore said. “I wasn’t doing enough. I took that in and I took it to a whole another level.”
During youth basketball, Moore often played two to three age groups higher than his age.
“He always played up, I would never imagine him playing in his own age group,” Hawkins said. “Last year was the first year he played with his age group while also playing for the 17-under squad.”
Even while playing with older kids, Moore was more physically mature than others and adults often questioned his age, but his stepfather, Chris Moore was prepared.
“My stepdad honestly had to carry his birth certificate around,” Hawkins said. “They didn’t believe us.”
Moore is closing in on 30 scholarship offers from schools like Arkansas, Florida, Iowa State, Texas A&M, St. John’s and others. He’s expected to narrow his list to 16 schools this weekend.
He and Hawkins often talk recruiting.
“He always told me don’t go to college for the name because sometimes they don’t fit you,” Moore said.
Moore helped lead the Arkansas based 16-under Woodz Elite to last year’s Peach Jam championship and is looking for a repeat for the 17-under team. After last year’s championship game, Moore was quick to look for his brother in the stands.
“Without my brother, my journey would be very different,” Moore said.
While their journey has been with plenty highs, Moore says the best came soon after winning last year’s Peach Jam and playing his brother in a game of 1-on-1.
“That was my first time to ever beat him,” Moore said.
Moore instantly ran around the court after sinking the winning bucket.
“I was acting like I was running on top of the media table,” Moore said.
Hawkins said he may give Moore a rematch if Woodz Elite wins the Peach Jam championship this weekend.
“I want him to bring another trophy home and I’ll give him another shot at it,” Hawkins said. “My record is like 6 to 1.”
Moore isn’t optimistic about overtaking his brother.
“He’s going to retire soon, so I won’t be able to catch up,” he said.
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