The University of Oregon men’s basketball team is just coming off of a rather spectacular season and the fans owe their gratitude, in part, to transfer forward Mike Moser. Although fellow transfer Joseph Young led the team in scoring, and point guard Johnathan Loyd controlled the pace, it was Moser that used his versatility and experience to hold the team together; especially down the stretch. So how, exactly, did he gain all this experience? Well, as noted, Moser is a transfer student and 5-year athlete. So luckily for Ducks fans everywhere, he decided to end his career where it began … in the land of Green and Yellow.
Although he was born in Dallas, Texas, Michael Alexander Moser began to gain national recognition while attending a public high school in Portland, Oregon. Moser became a four-year letterman in both basketball and track & field at Grant High School, which may explain the vast amount of versatility he boasts for his size.
However, what drew college scouts was the beautiful game of basketball that he showcased. The 6-foot-8 forward earned all-league and all-city honors in each of his four years at Grant, including his junior year in 2008 where he won a coveted state championship.
In his final year of high school, Moser finally earned All-America honors and was named Mr. Basketball for the state of Oregon. In this final, outstanding year, he averaged 28 points and 13 rebounds per game, and would go on to become Grant’s all-time leader in rebounds. These accolades, and his standout performances on the prestigious I-5 Elite AAU team, garnered him the 55th spot on ESPN’s top-100 rankings. By the end of the season, Moser was committed to play collegiate basketball at powerhouse school Arizona where he could be mentored by the legendary Lute Olsen.
However, Olsen, the Wildcats’ head coach, resigned due to health complications, so Moser opted to play for conference rival UCLA instead. At UCLA, Moser missed several early practices due to a back injury, and was never able to crack the rotation. He simply did not fit into the defensive-minded schematics that UCLA relied upon, and missing practices didn’t help him adjust, either.
Therefore, after a disappointing freshman season, Moser decided to leave the Bruins and take his talents elsewhere. Although he wanted to stay within the Pac-10, he eventually landed on UNLV as his destination. So, after taking the mandated year off, Moser would begin the second part of his collegiate career.
The adversity Moser faced at UCLA, combined with his hard work in the off-year, clearly worked to improve him as a basketball player, for he was spectacular as a redshirt sophomore at UNLV. He was an All-MWC honoree, named Honorable Mention to the AP All-America team and was 21st in the country in double-doubles. In fact, Moser was the only player in the country to have multiple 20+ rebound games. The standout forward averaged around 14 points and 11 rebounds per game in incredible fashion, including a win over the No. 1-ranked North Carolina Tar Heels. Following this season, spectators were expecting a follow-up campaign filled with feats of even greater magnitude.
Unfortunately, in his junior season, he struggled to mesh with standout freshman Anthony Bennett. In addition, Moser suffered an elbow injury early on that would plague him throughout his entire junior campaign. So, although being a preseason All-American, and appearing in 28 games, he finished with mediocre statistical averages of 7 points and 6 rebounds per game. Thus, upon graduation, Moser had one year of eligibility remaining and decided to transfer once more. This time, though, he picked the right school in the University of Oregon.
Moser came to Oregon and was immediately loved, despite having to fill the shoes of recent grad Arsalan Kazemi. As soon as his senior season began, Moser helped lead his team to an impressive win streak with 13 points and 8 rebounds per game. But these numbers do not necessarily do him justice.
A tenacious rebounder for the Ducks, yes, but he could also score with ease inside and stretch the floor with with his impressive perimeter game. There was a series of consecutive losses in the middle of the season, but as Moser and others began to regain their confidence, the Ducks got scary good – again. He even managed to pull down 20 boards against former team UCLA, and then put up 20 points the next game. He clearly showed that the only acceptable end to his career would be somewhere in late March.
And that is exactly where he finished. Moser wrapped up his body of work with a close loss to Wisconsin in the 3rd round* of the NCAA tournament. He finished as a Pac-12 honorable mention and will forever be loved by the Ducks and their fans. Moser showed, once again, how coach Dana Altman’s system of recruiting transfers can actually work, and for that, we thank him.
* With the addition of an eight-team play-in, now known as “The First Four,” the Ducks technically won a 2nd-round game, losing to the Badgers in the 3rd.
Top photo by Craig Strobeck