Nov. 24, 2014
Last Friday night (Nov. 14), as the house lights went dark in John Paul Jones Arena, the butterflies began to swirl inside one of the five players sitting on the bench, as she was staring through the tunnel of coaches and teammates and up ahead to where J'Kyra Brown and CavMan were waiting to greet her after her name was called.
"It was everything I had hoped for," Lauren Moses said of hearing her name booming from the speakers above. "It was a great moment, but was really surreal. This was everything I worked for while playing AAU for so long. Three games a day at times all paid off when they called my name out. It was a great feeling."
Moses allowed herself to savor the moment, but once the lights came back up, there was a game to be played and she buried the excitement to focus on the task at hand.
"At the tip, I was just telling myself to do everything that the coaches and the team had talked about when we were preparing for the game," Moses recalled. "I was thinking about everything that we had practiced all of those hours in preseason and this summer and how I needed to work on laying it all out on the floor. I reminded myself to trust in my teammates and also how I needed to do the little things and focus on the details."
Moses played 20 minutes in the game, scoring four points, pulling in seven rebounds and blocking a pair of shots, all of which were crucial in Virginia pulling out an 87-82 victory over Ohio State.
"I think the one play that stood out for me was when Ohio State threw the ball over to center court and I chased after it and got the layup," Moses said. "I knew someone was coming up behind me, but I still focused on the finish."
Moses helped seal the victory with a key rebound in the final 30 seconds.
"When the shot went up, I saw there was no one around me to box out, so I knew I needed to go for it," Moses recalled. "When the ball was on its way down, I jumped up and just knew it was mine."
Moses' journey to John Paul Jones Arena began when she was five years old, playing basketball in the Eastampton Rec League with her friends in the New Jersey side of the Philadelphia suburbs. She had tried soccer, but didn't like it. She had also taken dance lessons, learning everything from ballet to jazz to hip-hop moves, but in the end, she opted to focus solely on basketball.
"I was doing it for fun because I had a lot of friends on the team, so we would just meet up and play basketball together," Moses reflected. "I think it was something that grew on me and was something that I was spending so much time doing, I just wanted to continue to get better at it."
In addition to playing rec league, AAU and middle school and high school basketball, Moses also played games at home with her brother, Dezman, who is seven years her senior.
"When I was really young, I was told that my brother would always throw the ball off my head and that, apparently, I enjoyed that," Moses laughed. "Once I got into middle school and he was still in high school, I would play hoops against him. He would always beat me. When I was in high school, he would come back from college and would play against me. I beat him once, but he won't ever tell anyone that."
Dezman Moses went off to school at Iowa and then transferred to Tulane where the defensive end finished his career ranked fourth on the Green Wave's career sacks list.
"In college, the first game I ever saw him play was on TV," Moses said of her brother. "It was really weird to see my brother on TV, but it was really exciting for all of us. Growing up, when he would play any sport, I was always sitting at the end of the bench, acting like I knew what I was talking about. I was his little fan. Seeing him in college play and seeing how hard he worked to get to where he was and where he is now, honestly it motivates me." Dezman went on to play linebacker in the NFL for Green Bay and Kansas City.
"On draft day, I had an AAU tournament, so everyone was at my house and me and my mom were at a tournament," Moses recalled. "He didn't get drafted, though. He got signed like a minute after the draft ended. He was upset at first, and then he got the call. Everyone in the house went crazy. I got the call after my game that my brother was going to Green Bay. It was exciting and really cool.
"It was really exciting to see him play in the NFL as he was playing with well-known players and record-setting players," Moses said. "When he played with Green Bay, I was in love with Clay Matthews. So I was like, `I want to meet him!' I met Aaron Rodgers. I got see him play in person in the dome in Detroit and when he was with Kansas City, I saw him play the Eagles at home where I live. It was totally surreal to see him out there playing with them, but he's still my brother."
Now it will be Dezman's turn to cheer on his little sister for the next four years.
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