FAYETTEVILLE — Some draft experts believed Moses Moody might be National Basketball Association drafted a little higher, but Arkansas Coach Eric Musselman believes his precocious freshman couldn’t have been NBA drafted any better.
The 6-6 guard from Little Rock and then Monteverde (Fla.) Academy before leading the Razorbacks to a 25-7 SEC runner-up/NCAA Tournament Elite Eight season, was drafted high enough in Thursday night’s NBA draft to be the 14th lottery pick first round selection by the Golden State Warriors and becoming the Razorbacks’ first ever one and done drafted to turn pro after his freshman year.
The Warriors are led by perennial all-star guard Steph Curry and coached by 3-time NBA championship coach Steve Kerr.
“Is he better off where he is or two picks ahead?,” Musselman asked rhetorically with media and his team gathered at his home. “He’s better off where he is with that organization and playing in that style. I really believe that’s a perfect fit.”
“He’s a guy that understands offensive spacing,” Musselman said. “Golden State, the way they play, their philosophical Xs and Os is about spacing, sharing the ball, passing up a good shot for a great shot, and that’s what’s in Moses’ DNA. He’s going to an incredible organization, a great coach and a great front office and playing with some incredible vets – Steph Curry and Klay Thompson, those guys are the truest professionals.”
In attitude, professional described Moody in Musselman’s view even when a collegian.
“Immediately when he steps into their locker room, the veterans are going to respect him because of how he works and his approach to the game,” Musselman said. “He’s well mature beyond his age (19). We saw it on a daily basis and now Golden State is going to see it.”
Musselman predicts the Warriors will see it offensively from Moody, Arkansas’ leading scorer averaging 16.8 including 58 of 162 3-pointers, but also an adroit unselfish passer with heightened (a 7-1 wingspan) value as a rebounder and defender.
“Defensively he’s a guy who’s much improved,” Musselman said. “Obviously the 7-foot-1 wingspan is going to help him with a 24-second shot clock. He understands defensive principles and I think he’s a phenomenal team defender. The way Golden State plays, they rely on team defense because they have some guys that need weak-side help.”
They add a guard rebounding like a big man, Arkansas 6-10 freshman big man Jaylin Williams of Fort Smith Northside said Thursday night.
“ He was a really good rebounder for being a great shooter and great defender,” Williams said. “His rebounding was super good.”
Moody, Williams, and guards Devonte “Devo” Davis of Jacksonville and Khalen “KK” Robinson of Little Rock decided together they would assemble together at Arkansas but Williams and Davis said Thursday it wasn’t long before they realized Moody soon would be in an NBA uniform instead of Arkansas’.
“I remember early Moses putting in putback dunks every practice,” Williams said. “We saw his work ethic and we just knew he was a going to be a pro this next year coming.”
Davis pinpointed how early, early was to him that Moody would be Arkansas’ first one and done.
“I think in the (2020) summer, when we moved in us four together,” Davis said. “The summer work he put in was amazing to see. I had that mindset that he for sure was going to be up there like he is now.”
Musselman sees Moody setting that one-and-done mindset as an example to future Arkansans.
“Somebody from the state of Arkansas can play at home and become a lottery pick,” Musselman said. “Moses made an incredible jump from where he was rated at the end of his high school rating, and he did that through incredible hard work. It’s paid off for Moses, and we hope for that it pays off for others in due time as well.”