O’Brien: Charlie Moore commits to Memphis

SHARE O’Brien: Charlie Moore commits to Memphis

Just about everyone that watched Morgan Park play three seasons ago thought Nick Irvin was a little bit crazy. The Mustangs were loaded at the guard spot: Billy Garrett Jr., Kyle Davis and Markee Williams were a three-headed monster. It was the best backcourt in the city, Garrett and Williams had already won a city title together.

So why was Irvin giving his pint-sized freshman guard Charlie Moore so many minutes?

Irvin was asked that question plenty of times. Moore showed flashes that year and hit some big shots. But it just wasn’t clear to the untrained eye why he was on the court so often.

Irvin answered the question the same way most of that season: “Charlie was born for this.”

Moore has more than lived up to Irvin’s hype since then. He’s now 5-11 and generally considered the top player in the state’s class of 2016. He ended his recruitment on Thursday, choosing Memphis over VCU and California.

Moore actually had a prepared speech all set for the ceremony, which was broadcast live on The Cube. He thanked his family, a large group of coaches and several former teammates. But the first person mentioned was his dad, Curtis.

“My dad put a ball in my hands at an early age and made this happen,” Moore said.

It’s been a challenging few months for the Moore family. Curtis had a minor stroke Labor Day weekend.

“He’s doing a little better now,” Mike Moore, Charlie’s older brother, said. “He’s getting therapy. It’s too bad he couldn’t be here today.

“It definitely affected Charlie’s recruitment. (Curtis) was really involved with things, so we had to change Charlie’s visit dates.”

Illinois had been involved with Moore since last season. The Illini point guard woes are well known. Moore was considering Illinois, but scratched them off the list when point guard Te’Jon Lucas committed in mid-September.

“They called me and told me they were going in a different direction,” Moore said. “I have the utmost respect for (Illinois).”

Moore said the immediate playing time available next year with Memphis was the top factor in his decision.

“The relationship they had with my family is tremendous,” Moore, the first local player to commit to Memphis since Derrick Rose in 2006, said. “They vibed with them quickly. The coaching staff is great. (Memphis coach Josh Paster) is very energetic.”

Irvin said he knew Moore was special the first time he saw him play, when he was in sixth grade.

“He was the smallest guy on the court but he had the biggest heart,” Irvin said. “He was born ready.”

Morgan Park has been tremendously successful in Moore’s first three seasons. The Mustangs won the Class 3A state title his freshman and sophomore years. Last year they finished third after losing to Belleville Althoff in the semifinals.

This will be the first season that Moore is the Mustang’s go-to guy. Last year he played second fiddle to Marcus LoVett Jr.

“He loves the pressure, he loves the moment,” Irvin said. “I’m excited so see what he does.”

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