No grad school at Dillard means Moore for XULA

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NEW ORLEANS — There are no winged horses flying above Xavier University of Louisiana’s Convocation Center . . . and no leprechauns lurking in the Washington Avenue Canal that divides the campus. But check out this rarity: the 2019-20 women’s basketball team has a transfer from Dillard, XULA’s longtime city, HBCU and Gulf Coast Athletic Conference archrival.

“First Dillard transfer I’ve had at Xavier,” 21st-year head coach Bo Browder said of shooting guard Shaelynn Moore. “But she’s a really good one.”

Browder expects Moore — 5 feet 6 inches tall, from Houston and Atascocita High School and XULA’s final announced signee — to be in the starting lineup when the Gold Nuggets open the season this week. XULA will be in Southfield, Mich., a Detroit suburb, for the Lawrence Tech Blue Devil Classic: games against UM-Dearborn at 7 p.m. EDT Friday and Lawrence Tech at 4 p.m. EDT Saturday.

In three-plus seasons at Dillard, Moore scored 1,169 points, averaged 13.8 points per game, made 204 3-pointers and 78.2 percent of her free throws. She also had 244 rebounds, 204 assists and 149 steals. Moore was the GCAC Freshman of the Year in 2015-16 and first-team All-GCAC the next season.

Moore and classmate Alyssa Washington (career: 1,459 points, 736 rebounds, 347 assists) led a resurgence of Dillard basketball. The Lady Bleu Devils were 19-9 and second in the GCAC in 2016-17, then 23-8 and GCAC regular-season and tournament champions the next. Prior to those seasons, Dillard was 97-181 from 2006-16.

Yet Washington was able to complete her eligibility last season, help Dillard repeat as GCAC Tournament champion and earn a second straight bid to the NAIA Division I national tournament. Moore watched from the sideline. A torn left ACL in the third game ended Moore’s season. But because she played only three of Dillard’s 33 games, she qualified for a redshirt year in 2019-20.

If Dillard had a graduate school, Moore likely would be back there this season to complete her eligibility. Moore graduated on time, with a 3.99 GPA and a bachelor of science degree in physics. She was the salutatorian of her class.

“There’s no ill will toward Shae,” seventh-year Dillard head coach Norbert Rome said. “None at all. There’s nothing we could do to keep her at Dillard because we don’t have a graduate school. She earned her (bachelor’s) degree on time. She did great academically. We wish her well.”

Forced to look elsewhere, Moore considered other NOLA colleges for graduate classes and a team to join. She checked out the University of New Orleans, but she didn’t get a good vibe from that team. “They just play basketball to play basketball,” Moore said.

But XULA, though Dillard’s primary rival, felt just right to Moore.

“It’s the HBCU thing,” Moore said. “We play basketball to prove something. It was like that at Dillard. It’s like that at Xavier. Most people who play here could play anywhere. We have a different feel for basketball at Xavier and Dillard.”

Moore said she enjoys her new association with Browder, No. 3 all-time among Louisiana women’s college coaches with 469 victories. “I didn’t have a thought about him at Dillard. I only saw him at the games,” said Moore, a winner in 3-of-8 attempts against Browder’s teams. “But now I like him. He’s really sweet. He definitely cares for his players. He’ll do anything for you. I’ve seen that so far. He stays me with when I shoot baskets late at night.”

Note that XULA student-athletes are not permitted in the Convocation Center without a coach or athletic trainer present. At Dillard, Moore said she had carte-blanche access to Dent Hall’s gym. She could shoot baskets and work on her game any time she wanted.

Not that Moore has tons of spare time to shoot these days. She’s still involved with UNO, though not in a playing capacity. She’s pursuing a master’s of civil engineering from UNO — nine hours this semester. Her career goal is to be a project manager and oversee construction jobs. But to be eligible for the Gold Nuggets, she had to enroll at XULA. So there are six hours of XULA graduate-level classes — in education — on her plate this fall.

“Shae’s been absolutely great since she came aboard in August,” Browder said. “There probably aren’t a lot of basketball players this season who are taking 15 hours of grad school in the fall and making an impact on the court after rehabbing a knee. But Shae has great focus, desire, intensity — all the intangibles a coach wants. She’s finding a way to get things done and at a high level. If she weren’t ready to start Friday, I’d have her on the bench. But she’s ready. I have no doubts. She’ll be a big plus for us this season.

“I wouldn’t bet against Shae Moore. I’m blessed to have her for her last season.”

Moore is betting on herself, too. “I’m shooting for (GCAC) Player of the Year,” she said. “But if I’m just first-team all-conference, I’d be good with that. Maybe I could make All-America in Montana (at the national tournament).”

The left knee, says Moore in self-diagnosis, is 90-percent healed — about 10 percent better than it was a month ago. One-hour rehab sessions, three per week with athletic trainer Rebecca Appelt, will continue throughout the season. She’s required to play with a brace on the knee — not fun and kind of clunky.

But Moore is adapting, and she’s feeling great as she begins her final college season.

“The knee doesn’t give me any problem,” she said. “There’s no pain when I play.”

2019-20 XULA Women’s Basketball Signees
Name Pos. Ht. Yr.* Hometown High School (Previous College)
Jade Alexander G 5-7 So. Miami Gardens, Fla. Hallandale (SUNO)
Abryhia Irons G 5-7 Fr. Boutte, La. John Curtis Christian
Mackenzie Davis G 5-7 So. Reynoldsburg, Ohio Reynoldsburg eSTEM Academy (Stetson)
O.C. Mbakop Ngassam C 6-2 Jr. Yaounde, Cameroon College de La Retraite (Roane State JC)
Kira Mercado C 6-2 So. Hollywood, Fla. South Broward (SUNO)
Shaelynn Moore G 5-6 Gr. Houston, Texas Atascocita (Dillard)
* XULA athletic classification in 2019-20

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