It's fitting that Marquise Moore is enjoying a rebound season for George Mason.
The player who leads the nation's guards and all players 6-2 or less in rebounding has overcome his share of minor injuries. Last season, he missed four games after hurting his ankle Feb. 3, 2016 at Richmond.
“Last summer I was on campus for most of it recovering from a high ankle sprain,” said Moore, a 6-2 guard from Queens. “I worked a lot on the consistency of my shot and trying to extend my range, and work on my pull-up jumper.”
That work has paid off for Moore, who had 25 points, 13 rebounds, three blocks, two steals and two assists as Mason upset host Richmond 82-77 on Sunday in Atlantic 10 Conference play.
It was his 12th double-double of the season and he ranks third in the nation in defensive rebounding (9.0). Heading into a home contest against George Washington in the Revolutionary Rivalry Wednesday on ASN, Moore is averaging 18.4 points, 10.9 rebounds and 3.6 assists.
“Marquise is such a great player,” said Mason sophomore guard Jaire Grayer, whose father, Jeff, played 10 years in the NBA. “He has definitely improved from last year. He is finishing in the paint at will and finds (teammates) for the assist. He is playing an all-around game.”
On Monday, Moore was named a conference co-Player of the Week on Monday.
“The thing that really has been impressive is how professional he is in his approach,” said head coach Dave Paulsen, who is in his second season at Mason. “He is attacking every practice. He wants to win every competition. If he misses a couple of shots … he has the resolve to keep fighting.”
Mason is 13-6 overall and 3-3 in conference play while GW is 10-9, 2-4 after a 65-63 win at home over Duquesne on Jan. 18. The Colonials are led in scoring by Wake Forest transfer Tyler Cavanaugh at 15.8 points per contest.
GW will be challenged to deal with Moore, who can do a little bit of everything.
“Probably the best rebounding guard in the country I would have to imagine,” interim GW head coach Maurice Joseph said Monday. “They have a special rebounder in Moore. He is as good as anyone I have ever seen” as a rebounding guard.
St. Bonaventure head coach Mark Schmidt watched Moore score 19 points with 10 rebounds against his team Jan. 7 as the Bonnies won, 82-72.
“(Moore)’s strong, he’s physical, he’s got a great passion for the game,” Schmidt told reporters. “He can get into the lane, he’s got a great pull-up game. They run a lot of ball screens for him. He’s just really talented and he’s playing with a lot of confidence.”
Moore averaged 3.9 points per game as a freshman, 9.5 points per game as a sophomore and 11.4 points per contest as a junior last season.
Moore is getting help from Grayer (10.6 ppg), Jalen Jenkins is averaging (11.1) and sophomore Otis Livingston II (13.8).
“Otis has taken a big jump as far as being a leader and getting the team together” on the floor, Moore said.
The Patriots were picked to finish 12th out of 14 teams in the conference preseason poll this season but have beaten UMass, Saint Joseph’s and Richmond, three teams picked to finish ahead of them.
“That definitely motivated us,” Grayer said of the preseason snub. “We came out with an edge trying to prove everyone wrong. We really feel we can make the NCAA Tournament.”
Moore said he wants a shot at playing in the NBA but he knows playing overseas is another option. Moore has kept in touch with former teammates Bryon Allen, who has been playing in the Czech Republic, and Sherrod Wright, who is in his second season in Iceland.
First, Moore is focus on continuing a bounce-back season for the Patriots.
And he aided that cause with his rebounding, which sometimes defies logic – or at least his height.
“I am not really sure to tell you the truth. I work on boxing out, but rebounding is 99% effort,” Moore said. “It is who wants (the ball) more.”
David Driver is a free-lance writer in Cheverly, Md. Follow him @DaytonVaDriver.