‘Old soul’ Moody stirred Golden State

By: Bob Holt
Published: Saturday, July 31, 2021
Moses Moody prepares to take a shot during a pre-draft workout with the Golden State Warriors on July 15, 2021. (Michelle Poole/Golden State Warriors)
Moses Moody prepares to take a shot during a pre-draft workout with the Golden State Warriors on July 15, 2021. (Michelle Poole/Golden State Warriors)

FAYETTEVILLE — When former University of Arkansas guard Moses Moody worked out for the Golden State Warriors earlier this month, some of the team’s support staff couldn’t believe he was a freshman for the Razorbacks last season.

“A few of our development coaches … don’t know the players like we do,” Bob Myers, the Warriors president of basketball operations and general manager, said after Thursday night’s NBA Draft. “We said, ‘What do you think of Moody?’ They said, ‘Is he a junior or a senior?’

“He’s got kind of an old soul about him.”

Moody, who is from Little Rock and turned 19 on May 31, is taking his old soul to Golden State.

The Warriors made the 6-6 Moody the 14th pick in the first round.

“We liked him for a lot of reasons,” said Myers, a member of the 1995 UCLA team that beat Arkansas in the NCAA Tournament championship game. “He’s got great size, great length and has good skill and a good feel for the game.”

Moody attended the draft at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn with his parents, Rona and Kareem.

“Honestly, I had no idea where I was going to end up when I woke up this morning,” Moody said in a post-draft news conference. “But I’m glad I’m here [with the Warriors].

“I feel like I can get in and have a good place with the team that they have now and really contribute as soon as possible. But I’m willing to wait and develop as much as they need me to.”

Arkansas Coach Eric Musselman, a former NBA head coach with Golden State and Sacramento, said Moody played with a professional mindset last season.

“I mean, he’s just way mature beyond his age,” Musselman said after the draft. “If you looked down at the practice facility and watched Moses shoot when no one was around at 11 in the morning or 7 at night, there was no music playing, he was not laughing, he was not joking. He was zeroed in on the rim.

“He came to Arkansas on a mission. I truly believe that from a long time ago, he and his family had a mission on what they wanted to get accomplished and I think that his approach all last year showed he was single-minded in, ‘Hey, I want to help this team win.’ “

Moody, the SEC freshman of the year and a first-team all-conference pick, averaged 16.8 points, 5.8 rebounds and 1.6 assists for the Razorbacks, who finished 25-7 and reached the NCAA Tournament Elite Eight for the first time since 1995 before losing to eventual national champion Baylor.

“I’ll never forget the last game that we lost, the tears going down his [face],” Musselman said. “We all certainly knew at that stage that was probably his last game playing for the Razorbacks.”

Musselman called Moody the “ultimate team player” and marveled at his ability to continue to improve as the season progressed.

“Early on in nonconference, quite frankly, he struggled finishing around the rim,” Musselman said. “We addressed it in team film. I addressed it with him individually.”

Musselman said he was surprised the next day to go to the practice gym and see Moody working on an inside move.

“He did 2-foot jump-stop layups every day from that moment on,” Musselman said. “I’ve never told a player that he needed to work on something, and then he did it without me going down there and showing him the drill. He came up with the drill himself, and he did it every single day and he actually became a great finisher around the rim.”

Moody was asked what it meant to hear NBA Commissioner Adam Silver call his name on Thursday night.

“I’ve got it [written] inside of my jacket,” Moody said, opening it. “‘ This is why I did what I did.’

“It’s been a long process and that’s not just to say the last couple months. It’s been a lifelong process. I’ve always sacrificed for this moment and for the moments to come because this is not the end, this is the beginning.”

Moody already has met one of his new teammates, forward Draymond Green, the former Michigan State star who has played all nine of his NBA seasons with the Warriors.

Green is in Tokyo playing for Team USA in the Olympics, but he and Myers were in constant communication during the draft.

Moody met Green in Los Angeles when Green stopped by the house of agent Rich Paul, who represents both players.

“[Green] gave me a big thumbs-up,” Myers said of drafting Moody. “I’m glad he’s supportive and appreciate that.”

The Warriors won NBA championships in 2015, 2017 and 2018 with Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Green. Thompson missed the last two seasons because of leg injuries, but with his return next season Golden State is expected to be a contender again.

“I’m extremely excited,” Moody said of the prospect of helping the Warriors return to a championship level after they missed the playoffs the previous two years without Thompson. “I like to play, obviously, on winning teams and to win games, and [Golden State] can really do it. I’m just glad to be a part of a winning program.”

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