Duke Basketball: 2019 commit Wendell Moore to be at Beach Ball Classic

Duke basketball mascot (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Duke basketball mascot (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images) /

This article is intended for any Duke basketball fans who are both grateful to Wendell Moore for sparking the 2019 recruiting class and are always looking for a good excuse to escape for a few days to Myrtle Beach.

Some of this Duke basketball fan’s favorite memories from the teenage years fell on the days between Christmas Day and New Year’s Day each year.

My family always took a vacation to Myrtle Beach that week, which happened to coincide with one of the granddaddies of high school holiday basketball tournaments:

The Beach Ball Classic.

At the 1995 event, I was fortunate enough to watch a Lower Merion High School senior drop 43 points in a game. You might know the name of the guy who wowed me with his basketball brilliance that night:

Kobe Bean Bryant.

When my dad picked up me and my friend from that day’s slate of games — I was still too young to drive at the time — we told him that we had just witnessed the greatest player on the planet. Of course, that was hard for my dad to believe considering the planet at that time featured a player still in his prime named Michael Jeffrey Jordan.

Turns out, though, our hype turned out to be only a slight exaggeration.

Although Bryant, who at the time was considering playing for Duke, ended up bypassing college for the NBA, I remained a fan of his throughout his career because a) I had watched him play in person in Myrtle Beach and was dumbfounded by his abilities, b) I wanted someone to end up taking the GOAT title from Air Jordan because he once played for the Tar Heels, and c) He admitted on several occasions that if he had gone to college, he would have chosen to play for Mike Krzyzewski.

An honorary member of #TheBrotherhood in my book.

Tough not to like a guy who is smart enough to see that playing for Coach K is the optimal choice.

And that brings us to Wendell Moore, who at the beginning of October became the first 2019 recruit to commit to Duke.

The 6-foot-6, 215-pound five-star small forward out of Concord, N.C., who is ranked No. 24 on the 247Sports Composite, will be making a return trip to the Beach Ball Classic, where a year ago he was named Most Outstanding Player — an honor he shares with the Black Mamba and a couple of former Blue Devils.

And Moore, who is averaging 26 points while shooting 53 percent from the field so far as a senior for Cox Mill High School, understands just how cool it is to be on any list that includes Bryant, Grant Hill, and Grayson Allen (note: current Duke freshman R.J. Barrett won Most Valuable Player last year while leading his Montverde Academy to the tournament title; in other words, shining future Blue Devils have become a regular sight on the Grand Strand the week after Christmas).

"“To be mentioned with players like Kobe, that’s an honor,” Moore said after being named MOP last year, as reported by Joe Hughes of the Gaston Gazette. “A lot of those guys are Hall of Famers. So to maybe be mentioned along with those guys is a blessing.”"

Speaking of a blessing, that is exactly what Moore — a gifted slasher who displays so much confidence with the ball that he could probably be trusted with playing point guard if ever need be — is to Duke.

Before his commitment, many fans, including myself, were beginning to worry — unnecessarily — that something had happened to Coach K’s magic recruiting wand.

Since his commitment, Moore has turned into a key contributor to Duke’s recruiting efforts, reaching out to other top prospects via social media and group chats. As a result, the Blue Devils now have the No. 6 class in the country, according to 247Sports, and a real possibility of reaching the top spot yet again.

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In case you haven’t been tuned into recruiting news this year — understandable considering the distraction that is the unbelievably talented current No. 2 Duke team (11-1), which is a result of the coaches hauling in the best class in the history of the sport a year ago — in addition to Moore, the Blue Devils’ coaching staff has picked up commitments from five-star center Vernon Carey Jr. (ranked No. 2 on the composite) and four-star combo guard Boogie Ellis (ranked No. 36).

Also, Coach K and Co. have offers on the table to five-star center Isaiah Stewart (ranked No.6), who took an official visit to Duke at the end of November and could announce his college choice at any time, and five-star forward Matthew Hurt (ranked No. 7), who will be on his official visit to Duke the weekend of Jan. 19 and likely won’t announce where he will be playing next season until the spring.

But back to Moore.

Duke fans, especially those who don’t know how they will make it until Jan. 5 when the Blue Devils next play (home against Clemson) and live within driving distance of the South Carolina coast, should show up to the Myrtle Beach Convention Center on Dec. 26 at 7 p.m. to show support for a future Blue Devil.

If Cox Mill loses its opening game, Moore and his team would play a consolation game the following day. If Cox Mill wins and then continues to win, though, Moore would play again on the 28th, 29th, and 31st for the championship game.

But regardless of how many games Moore gets to play, the folks who put on the event are certainly happy he’s there, helping keep intact the reputation of the tournament for showcasing, year in and year out, some of the best teenage ballers in the country.

"“We’re excited to have him and his team visit the Beach Ball Classic once again,” tournament director John Rhodes said, according to Hughes. “Any kid in the Carolinas we like to consider them local kids. But Wendell Moore is a national phenomenon. He plays extremely smooth, has a great shooting touch, and plays great defense. To have a player of his caliber come to this tournament, we’re mighty thankful to have him.”"

And Duke fans — Moore has been one himself growing up — are mighty thankful he decided to join #TheBrotherhood.

Next. Top five small forwards of the Coach K era. dark

Stay tuned to Ball Durham for more Duke basketball recruiting updates, analysis, opinions, and predictions.