As a freshman on the Killeen Lady Kangaroos basketball team, Jacen Moore has gotten an early start on her varsity career, but the joys of the game didn’t necessarily come to her early on.
“Actually, I did not like basketball,” Moore said. “I started playing summer basketball one year and after that it started getting a little more fun, so I decided to play again and again and now I’m here. It started getting more fun and now I’m starting to enjoy the game.”
Despite making the jump from middle school to Class 5A varsity basketball, Moore is averaging seven points and five rebounds for the Lady Roos and is one of the team’s best young players.
Her skills may be new to some Lady Roo fans, but coach Latisha Williams got a sneak peek at Moore when she first saw the freshman attend camps in elementary school.
“She has a mind for the game and she’s definitely well beyond her years,” Williams said. “When I look at her and remember that she’s only a ninth-grader physically, she’s definitely a lot more mature, a lot more coordinated than the usual bigger freshmen that we get.”
Williams said that Moore’s maturity level doesn’t surprise her since she’s enrolled in the International Baccalureate program at Killeen High School.
This opportunity shows that Moore is just as dedicated to hitting the books and excelling academically as she is at making layups on the basketball court.
“Beyond just having the skill set that she has and the potential for excellence, she’s a really good kid,” Williams said. “I like being around her and she brings positive things to the team. I don’t have to worry about her grades; she’s not getting in trouble or things like that.
“She’s ‘yes ma’am, no ma’am; whatever you want me to do.’”
The 5-foot-10 post has also shown a sense of stability that is not often found in freshmen, and other players on the team have noticed.
“She feels no stress,” sophomore guard Tia Harston said. “She may be stressed, but she doesn’t let anybody know. She plays through it and that’s a big thing as a freshman playing on varsity.”
Moore is part of a Killeen basketball legacy. Her father Marvin played for the Roos and is a 1989 graduate of Killeen High.
But Moore said she didn’t feel any pressure following in her dad’s footsteps.
“I just want to make a name for myself,” Moore said. “Being his daughter is just something extra. It could be anybody else.”
Moore said playing summer basketball against older girls helped her prepare for the talent and competition of the varsity level which was important since she had to come in and help fill the void left in the post by players like Jasmine Goodwine.
But nothing could really prepare her for her first home game at Killeen earlier this season.
“I was really nervous,” Moore said. “I don’t think I settled into that game until the fourth quarter. It was nerve-racking. I would bobble the ball and forget everything I was supposed to be doing. I just had to get it together, and I did, but not until it was too late.”
This season is just the beginning for Moore and the rest of the Lady Roos.
Killeen has only five seniors listed on its varsity roster of 17.
“I think we will definitely have a lot of good games and we complement each other,” Harston said.