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2016 Chicago Sun-Times Player of the Year: Morgan Park’s Charlie Moore

This season was not easy for Morgan Park guard Charlie Moore. His father, Curtis Moore, suffered a stroke on Labor Day weekend.

Curtis Moore didn’t play in the NBA. He didn’t hand down the gift of height or incredible athletic ability to his son. But he taught him the game and was there every step of the way, watching from the sidelines, cheering him on and yelling instructions. After the stroke all of that changed. He was unable to walk or talk.

“Charlie couldn’t talk to his dad for about a month or so, he was down then,” said Tanya Moore, Charlie’s mom. “Charlie told me that when he plays he pictures his dad on the sidelines, screaming and hollering and telling him what to do. That works for him.”

It certainly did work. Charlie Moore is the 2016 Sun-Times Player of the Year. That’s a massive accomplishment for any player, but it’s even more astounding considering all the pressure heaped on Moore. He’s had to deal with his dad’s serious health issues, had to make sure the preseason No. 1 ranked Mustangs lived up to huge expectations, had to be the best player on the court in every game.

“My dad put a ball in my hands at an early age and made this happen,” Charlie Moore said. “It’s been pretty tough seeing him go through this. I’ve let a lot of steam off in the gym. I can just go there and not think about anything but basketball.”

Curtis Moore has been steadily recovering over the past few months. He’s talking now and working on getting back on his feet.

“I talk to him every day,” Charlie Moore said. “He has more energy. He eats more and is laughing and having a good time. He’s just enjoying watching this season. We record all the games for him. That’s kept his spirits up even more, watching me play.”

Moore was a 5-7 freshman when he first burst on to the scene, dripping with the kind of confidence and swagger rarely seen in Division I bound seniors, let alone tiny underclassmen. Morgan Park coach Nick Irvin said his tiny guard was “born for this” but it turns out that isn’t exactly true. The confidence and the skills were instilled by his father.

“Charlie’s confidence and everything else comes from his dad,” Tanya Moore said. “He started coaching him in the back yard when he was four years old.”

Moore grew to 5-11 the summer before his junior year. It made all the difference. Size isn’t an issue anymore. He’s a deadly three-point shooter and can get to the rim at will.

“I never worried about being small,” Moore said. “When the height came it was a blessing, made me a better player. But I don’t think I needed it.

“Being in the gym with my dad my whole life, learning these skills from him gave me confidence. I’ve always known what I can do on the court, what kind of shots I can make. That comes from all of the work I’ve put in.”

Moore averaged 28 points, seven assists and five steals this season. He led the Mustangs to the Proviso West Holiday Tournament title. Morgan Park won the Class 3A state title Moore’s freshman and sophomore seasons. The Mustangs lost to Belleville Althoff in the semfinals last season and finished third.

Moore is planning on getting to Peoria for a fourth consecutive season. The Mustangs are just two wins away. He wants another shot at Belleville Althoff. State tournament games are shown live on television, so his dad won’t need to watch a recording.

“[Charlie] wants to show his dad that he has it,” Tanya Moore said. “He might not be there in person, but he’ll be watching and he’ll be there in spirit.”

CHICAGO SUN-TIMES PLAYERS OF THE YEAR

2016—Charlie Moore, Morgan Park

2015—Jalen Brunson, Stevenson

2014—Cliff Alexander, Curie

2013—Jahlil Okafor, Young

2012—Jabari Parker, Simeon

2011—Wayne Blackshear, Morgan Park

2010—Jereme Richmond, Waukegan

2009—Jereme Richmond, Waukegan

2008—Kevin Dillard, Homewood-Flossmoor

2007—Derrick Rose, Simeon

2006—Jon Scheyer, Glenbrook North

2005—DeAndre Thomas, Westinghouse

2004––Calvin Brock, Simeon

2003—Shannon Brown, Proviso East

2002—Sean Dockery, Julian

2001—Eddy Curry, Thornwood

2000—Cedrick Banks, Westinghouse

1999—Leon Smith, King

1998—Quentin Richardson, Young

1997—Melvin Ely, Thornton

1996—Ronnie Fields, Farragut

1995—Kevin Garnett, Farragut

1994—Jerry Gee, St. Martin de Porres

1993—Rashard Griffith, King

1992—Chris Collins, Glenbrook North

1991—Sherell Ford, Proviso East

1990—Jamie Brandon, King

1989—Deon Thomas, Simeon

1988—Eric Anderson, de Sales

1987—Marcus Liberty, King

1986—Nick Anderson, Simeon

1985—Michael Ingram, Proviso West

1984—Hersey Hawkins, Westinghouse

1983—Len Bertolini, St. Patrick

1982—Bernard Jackson, Phillips

1981—Walter Downing, Providence

1980—Glenn Rivers, Proviso East

1979—Isiah Thomas, St. Joseph

1978—Mark Aguirre, Westinghouse

1977—Eddie Johnson, Westinghouse

1976—Glen Grunwald, East Leyden

1975—Pete Boesen, Maine South

1974—Audie Matthews, Bloom

1973—Mark Vitali, St. Charles

1972—Quinn Buckner, Thornridge

1971—Quinn Buckner, Thornridge

1970—Lloyd Batts, Thornton

1969—Jim Brewer, Proviso East

1968—Jeff Hickman, Lockport

1967—Rick Howat, Downers Grove

1966—Rich Bradshaw, Marshall

1965—Terry Hurley, Steinmetz

1964—Eugene Ford, Crane

1963—Joe Allen, Carver

1962—Cazzie Russell, Carver

1961—Bob Caress, Thornton

1960—George Wilson, Marshall