WESTFIELD, Ind. – Before Moses Moody had developed a friendship with E.J. Liddell, before he even really knew anything about him, he watched Liddell make a play that sticks with him to this day.
Moody’s voice raises in excitement with each word as he retells the story. In their first week playing together for Bradley Beal Elite of the Nike EYBL, he watched a player from an opposing team, whom he estimated was 6-foot-10 and 250 pounds, rumble into the lane with vicious intentions.
“I'm like, 'Oh my gosh, he's about to,’” Moody said. “And then E.J., no fear in his eyes, goes up and catches him at the rim and catch the ball. He didn't block it. He caught it and brought it down.”
Liddell left Moody stunned with only one thought.
“With a guy like that, it's hard to lose,” Moody said.
Ohio State wants to pair Moody up with Liddell once again, this time at the collegiate level instead of on the grassroots circuit. Liddell has played the role of a recruiter for the Buckeyes, too, Moody said.
Moody, a 6-foot-5, 180-pound shooting guard, is the No. 34 overall prospect in 2020. He has attracted interest and offers from a multitude of programs, and listed Ohio State, Arkansas, Kansas, Texas and Florida as the teams that have talked to him most recently. He grew up in Little Rock, Arkansas, but plays for Montverde Academy in Florida, the prep school that produced D’Angelo Russell.
Knowing Moody’s connection to Liddell and Duane Washington Jr., whom he grew up with, the Buckeyes have used the bonds to their advantage.
“Their main message is definitely relationships because I have a lot of relationships with the guys that's already there,” Moody said. “With me being a long scorer like I am, they say I fit perfectly in their offense.”
“I'm definitely a scorer,” Moody said. “My specialty is scoring, but I can also get to the cup, get rebounds, put-backs, all that. I can get up around the rim. I can get athletic. I can do it all.”
In eight games with Bradley Beal Elite, he’s averaging a team-high 18.4 points, 4.4 rebounds and 1.6 assists per game. Despite hitting just 29.2 percent of his 3-point attempts, the typically proficient long-range shooter has shot 43.9 percent from the field and 80.6 percent from the free-throw line. Shooting, he said, comes naturally to him and is the part of his game he has felt most comfortable with as long as he has played the sport.
Thus, it’s not surprising how Ohio State envisions his role.
“Definitely at a scoring position with my shot and how I can create for others,” Moody said. “So definitely around the two, three spots.”
Moody, while an impact scorer already, remains a developmental prospect.
With a 7-foot-1 wingspan, the Arkansan said he has heard the word “potential” for his “whole life.”
“Ever since I was 10 years old, I wore the same size shoe as my age,” Moody said. “So when I was 10, I wore a 10. Now I'm 16, I wear a 16. So, I mean, it's just so much stuff like that. I have huge hands. I'm long. I can scratch my knees standing up. It's just so many things. They say I be built like a basketball player. Even when I was on the football field, they were mad at me for being out there. They said I was in the wrong sport.”
Whoever “they” are, they got it right. Moody has found his calling in basketball, and the Buckeyes want in on his future.
Moody has not visited Columbus yet, but he said it is “definitely an option.” Ohio State coaches, including Chris Holtmann, have visited him at his school.
“He seems like a very personable guy,” Moody said. “You can't really take that much during the recruiting process because you don't know how they're going to switch when you get there. But he seems like a good guy. I like their playing style and the guys the have.”
If Holtmann and his staff pull off the addition of Moody, relationships with those already on the team would play a major factor.
Moody said he doesn’t talk to Washington much any more, but called him “my guy.” Washington’s cousin, Cleveland State forward Seth Millner, has been Moody’s brother’s best friend since elementary school, so Washington and Moody have “always been around each other.”
Though Moody hasn’t known Liddell for much longer than a year, they still talk frequently, often through FaceTime calls.
“That might be one of my favorite people to play with,” Moody said. “If I get beat, it's all good, no point in fouling because he's going to go catch it off the glass. Whenever I miss a shot, I know he's coming to get the put-back. I can throw it in to him. He's so physical. You see his legs, they're like tree trunks. He's so strong getting to the paint getting to the paint. He's going to bump off to finish, and you can't finish against him.”
Moody can’t help but smile when he talks about Liddell, whom he said was probably his best friend on Bradley Beal Elite.
Now, imagine Holtmann thinking about the pairing in Scarlet and Gray.