One of this years top rookies was not in drafted in the first or second round of last Junes draft. Hell, he didnt even play college ball unless you count community college. Instead, this 27-year-old rookie had to grind to make it to the League. Nearly six years of playing everywhere from Dodge City, Kansas to Monterrey, Mexico, he is now the starting small forward for the Toronto Raptors. Rags to riches?
Yep, meet Jamario Moon.
At 6-8 and 200 pounds, Moons long slender frame and versatile skill set can be compared to a poor mans Tayshaun Prince or Scottie Pippen. He can play three positions, and he does it on both ends of the floor. In a game last week against the Bulls, Moon used his long arms to block six shots and get three steals to go along with his 15 points and nine rebounds. He has shown the ability to dish the rock and has impressive athleticism. Moon has already thrown down some nasty jams so far in his month-long career.
For the season, this rookie is averaging a very respectable 9.1 points, 7.4 boards, 1.31 steals and 1.62 blocks. His stellar play and stats have left fans, opposing teams and fantasy basketball enthusiasts asking the same question: Where the hell did this kid come from?
Coming out of high school in Alabama in 00, Moon signed to Mississippi State, but poor grades led him to Meridian Community College in Mississippi instead. After one season there, he dropped his name in the draft where he was ignored by all 29 teams. From there, Moon embarked on a basketball odyssey that took him to the CBA, NBDL, ABA, Italy, Mexico and even a brief stint with the Harlem Globetrotters.
It was last season where Moons game really developed as a member of the CBAs Albany Patroons. Under former NBA All Star and current Patroon head coach Michael Ray Richardson, Moon developed a knack for playing D. After scouts took notice, Moon was invited to the Raptors summer league squad, where he performed well. His solid play continued into the preseason where GM and known talent finder Bryan Collangelo took notice and signed the unknown Moon to a contract.
While he has been the Cinderella of the league so far, many (haters) question whether he can keep up at this pace. My opinion? I think Moon has staying power in this league because of the road he had to take.
There is something to be said about people who make it the hard way. Look at guys like Ben Wallace, Raja Bell, David Wesley and Darrell Armstrong. All got in the NBA through the back door and all have made an impact and had staying power. Jamario is no different. Sure, he doesnt have the same potential as Kevin Durant or Greg Oden who are both 19, but Moon has the hunger to stay in the league. When you come from leagues where you ride Greyhounds and play for hundreds a week, make you appreciate when you finally get the contract.
Plus he has one of those games where he can fill up a stat sheet by just staying within the flow of the offense. Cutting, put-backs and running the floor is where he has been doing the most damage – and guys like that are valuable for any team in this league. So dont expect Moon to fade away anytime soon. Watch for him to keep taking advantage of this opportunity hes got in Toronto, because he out of everyone should know that opportunities dont come very often.