With an unstoppable drive, UConn's Moore reigns over women's hoops
When Connecticut forward
What the college basketball world saw Moore do during the 2007-08 season was turn in arguably the most spectacular freshman year in the history of women's hoops. Made a starter after junior guard
And Moore did all that while maintaining a 3.85 GPA. "I believe Maya will be the torchbearer who carries the game to another level," says DePaul coach
Moore blazed through her sophomore season as well, putting up numbers that added her name to the discussion of the greatest players ever. Through 37 games she has scored 712 points to break former UConn center
Ask the cognoscenti what sets Moore apart and there is surprising consensus. It's not her deadly shooting, her nose for rebounds, her on-court savvy, her absurd athleticism -- she dunks for fun but has yet to attempt one in a game -- or even her competitive drive, which Bruno compares with
For UConn coach
It's not just Moore's game that suggests she's well beyond her teens. It's her distaste for "going crazy" in college, her refusal to take anything for granted, her attention to detail. In the preseason Ralph assigned each guard a certain number of shots to take each week. At the end of the first week she received a text from Moore breaking down her shots taken and percentages made from seven feet, 15 feet, the three-point line and off the dribble. "It said, My goal, without defense, is this percentage, and for threes it's this percentage," says Ralph. "I only asked her to take shots. But that's the kind of kid she is; she wants to see improvement."
After her senior year at Collins Hill High in Suwanee, Ga., Moore asked Connecticut assistant
Moore's sense of purpose was evident early. When she was 8 she set aside the other sports she was playing to focus on basketball. That same year the WNBA was launched. "That's where I got my passion for the game, watching the WNBA on TV," says Moore. "
At 10, she established Maya's Mobile Car Wash to earn money for the drum set that she still plays in her mom's basement. At 12, Maya was born again. She credits her deep Christian faith for that quality others call confidence and she calls inner peace. "Everything you see me involved in flows from my faith," she says.
Moore's father is
When Maya was in middle school, Kathryn had her researching colleges and writing résumés. "I told her if you're going to send a letter to a coach, they will want to see more than Oh, she's sweet; they want information," says Kathryn, who now sells handbags out of the home near UConn's campus. Moore's résumé included her stats -- which Kathryn, a former college volleyball player, dutifully kept every game -- her GPA and her summer schedule, and she sent it out to a few coaches, including Auriemma, who still keeps it in a desk drawer in his office.
Three years before she finished her career at Collins Hill High, with three state titles, back-to-back Naismith National Player of the Year awards and a 125-3 record, Moore had narrowed her choices to UConn, Tennessee, Duke and Georgia. She chose the Huskies after her junior season in part because she knew her weaknesses would be exposed every day under Auriemma's watch. "I came to the right place for that," she says with a chuckle, adding that she has agreed with 99 percent of the things Auriemma has yelled at her about. "All your mistakes are on tape. The coaches will say, 'And here you turned the ball over. Let's watch it again!'"
Not all the tape from that historic freshman season is game footage. Moore, who for all her poise and maturity harbors a well of endearing wide-eyed enthusiasm, brought a video camera on road trips. "I heard we had a charter to almost all our away games, and I was like, I've never been on a chartered flight! I'm going to record it!" she says.
Jaded she's not. At the McDonald's All-American game, in which she played as a junior and senior, Moore was the first player to leap off the bench and hand other players water. Her Connecticut teammates have found her refreshing too. "Maya puts everybody at ease," says
A self-taught drummer, Moore pounded out rhythms on lockers and walls to get her Collins Hill and Georgia Metros AAU teammates chanting before games. At UConn she hums and beats on the walls of the cold tub she sits in after practices. "She's always making up cheers and songs," says teammate
Good enough that Moore and McLaren sang the national anthem on Senior Night, before Moore had 18 points, seven rebounds, four assists and four steals in the 81-50 win over Seton Hall that clinched the Big East regular season title.
Even with all she's accomplished, Moore still feels she has a lot of work to do. There are more national titles to chase, grades to keep up -- she's interested in either broadcast journalism or sports marketing -- and teammates to serve. (Auriemma named her a captain this season, making her just the second sophomore so honored, after senior guard