Moss Talks Ragin' Cajuns

The plan for sharp-shooting forward Matt Moss after graduating from Anacoco (La.) High School last spring was to enroll at Duquesne, but that changed when the Dukes encouraged him to first attend Charis Prep in North Carolina.

Now Moss is set for a return to his home state after recently committing to sign with Louisiana's Ragin' Cajuns during the NCAA's spring signing period, which is April 11 to May 16.

Moss, who will have four seasons of eligibility, plans to sign with the Cajuns next Wednesday after flying back to his hometown of Anacoco.

"I've been interested in them since my junior year of high school," Moss said of the Cajuns. "It's close to home and a great mid-major school in a good conference. I just thought it was the obvious choice."

Moss has already made two unofficial visits to Lafayette, one while in high school and another when the Cajuns beat Central Florida in December while he was home during Christmas break. He intends to take an official visit to campus after signing next week.

This season Moss was one of 10 Division I prospects for Charis Prep, which went 39-3 while playing a schedule that included other prep schools, junior colleges and college junior varsity teams.

A versatile 6-foot-10, 230-pound forward, Moss averaged 15.8 points and 10.1 rebounds per game and shot an incredible 62.3 percent from 3-point range while operating in a motion offense for one of the nation's elite prep schools. His game has drawn comparisons to that of Dallas Mavericks forward Dirk Nowitzki.

"The most impressive thing for him was he shot 62.3 percent from 3," said Charis Prep coach Carlos Peralta, who also founded the school. "I've never put in more pick-and-pop plays in my life."

With Moss playing a vital role, Charis Prep won the National Prep School Tournament for the fifth time in the past eight years. According to Peralta, the school has produced 83 Division I signees since opening its doors in 2004.

"We play a schedule made up of no high school teams," Peralta said. "It's all prep schools, junior colleges and college JV teams, so it was either sink or swim for him. He started at the 5 spot and gave us some much-needed size for the type of competition we played against."

Some of the other schools involved with Moss were Ole Miss, Penn State, Wisconsin, Virginia, Toledo, UTEP, Winthrop, UNC Asheville, McNeese State, Southeastern Louisiana and Presbyterian.

Moss made an official visit to Duquesne last November, but he reopened his recruitment as more schools started to take notice of his improved skills after going to Charis Prep. He narrowed his choices to the Cajuns, McNeese State and Winthrop before issuing a verbal commitment despite Ole Miss coaches hinting they could offer him soon.

Some of Charis Prep's alumni include 2009 Sun Belt Conference of the Year Orlando Mendez-Valdez (Western Kentucky), Sam Grooms (Oklahoma), Zaire Taylor (Missouri) and Jimmy Graham (Miami).

"His improvement has come in three main areas since coming here," Peralta said. "No. 1, he slimmed down about 10 pounds and got in better shape. Now he's able to get up and down the court very well. No. 2, he's learned to play at a faster pace. His foot speed has improved. And No. 3, he's learned to score with his back to the basket using jump hooks with either hand. He's not just a one-dimensional shooter like he was when he got here. He's really come a long way."

Peralta said the biggest impact Moss has on the floor is his ability to knock down shots from the perimeter.

"Without question his biggest strength is to face up and shoot the basketball beyond the 3-point line," Peralta said. "He also has good hands and a good feel for the game and makes good decisions. He's a quiet guy, but he competes."

Before going to prep school, Moss racked up nearly 2,700 points and 1,200 rebounds in his career – averaging 19.5 points and 8.5 rebounds per game – at Anacoco High. He finished as the school's career leader in blocked shots and garnered all-state recognition three times.

Moss averaged 24 points, 9.4 rebounds and three blocks while shooting 44 percent from 3 as a senior at Anacoco High in 2011 to earn honorable mention Class 2A all-state honors for the second consecutive season. He was selected to play in the Louisiana High School Coaches Association All-Star game and also nominated to compete in the McDonald's All-American game.

Anacoco won the District 4-2A title while going 25-6 during his junior season. As a sophomore Moss was a first-team all-state selection when Anacoco played at the Class B level and advanced to the Top 28 in the Cajundome.

While in high school Moss reportedly held offers from the Cajuns and Northwestern State and had interest from McNeese State and Pepperdine before signing with Duquesne last spring.

Moss also played for a loaded Louisiana Select Nike Travel squad that included Ricardo Gathers (Baylor), Leron Barnes (Houston), Zay Jackson (Murray State), Louis Dabney (Tulane) and Shawn Long (Louisiana).

Peralta expects Moss to improve even more after joining the Cajuns. Moss comes from a basketball family as both his mother Jeanette (Cal Poly) and sister Jordan (Pratt Community College and LSU-Eunice) played at the collegiate level.

"Once he gets in a weight room in a college program and gets proper nutrition he will get stronger and improve his athleticism," Peralta said. "In two years I could see where his athleticism may even become a strength."

Moss is eager to officially become a Cajun and begin his life as a collegiate student-athlete in June in summer school.

"I'm really excited, and I'm glad I will be there in Lafayette," Moss said. "I'm looking forward to going there, working hard and doing my best, and we'll see how it goes."

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