Florida A&M men’s head coach Eugene Harris sprinkled in some local flavor and added more scoring to the Rattler basketball recipe with the offseason addition of Rickards High standout Avery Moore.
The 5-foot-10 combo guard was the leading scorer for the Rickards Raiders last year on their way to an undefeated season (27-0). He also led all scorers in the 2010 3A state title game with 23 points, including two clutch 3-pointers in the final minutes of the upset over the Brandon Knight led Pine Crest Panthers.
That fearlessness and willingness to step up in late game situations is one aspect of Moore’s skill set that Harris was most awed by.
“He’s a very fierce competitor,” he said. “He may look small in size and stature but on the inside, he’s a very large young man. He’s got an attitude that he wants to be a winner and I’m impressed with that.”
Moore, the Big-Bend Player of the Year, said that signing with FAMU was an easy decision.
“I’m home. I was born and raised in Tallahassee and I’ve been playing basketball all my life in Tallahassee,” he said. “There’s no better place to play than home.”
Harris hopes that having a “Tallahasseean” on the roster will attract more of a following to the 9,000-seat Al Lawson Multipurpose Center, which struggled last season with attendance.
“He’s going to bring a lot more fans from the south side and bring a lot more fans from the city of Tallahassee,” the third-year coach said.
One of the scrappy guard’s biggest weapons is his 3-point shooting, which was an ability that last year’s team (9-22, 5-11 MEAC) struggled with at a lowly 30 percent.
Brandon Bryant, the senior guard who led the Rattlers a year ago with 46 made three-pointers, has graduated. Two of the other four players who shot at least 30 percent from deep last season (David Buchanon and Dale Hughes) have also left the team for undisclosed reasons.
Although Moore’s talents are undeniable, his all-or-nothing approach as it relates to winning may prove to be the most important factor in what he brings to the program.
“I feel like if I loss, I’ve failed. We have to talk to each other and let each other know to get on the same page with winning,” Moore said. “We can’t lose and be satisfied with that.”
Coach added to staff
Former Bethune-Cookman head coach Tony Sheals has joined Harris’ staff of assistants. Sheals coached FAMU DRS last season.
He served as an assistant at Florida State under Leonard Hamilton and also as the Director of Basketball Operations at the University of Miami.
Asked about being on the other side of the historic rivalry, a smiling Sheals said, “I had to make the transition from being a Hurricane to a Seminole so it’s relative, but I’m a basketball coach.”