Former Cox Mill High School star Wendell Moore Jr. is entering his sophomore season on Coach Mike Krzyzewski's Duke basketball team, which will open 2020-21 with a game against Gardner-Webb in Durham on Nov. 25.
Moore, who is the leading public-school scorer in Cabarrus County history, fielded questions from journalists via video conference, and these are a selection of his responses, courtesy of GoDuke.com:
On the returning players
“All of us have progressed tremendously. The biggest area that we all improved on is we all became better leaders.
"Game-wise, I can say for Jordan (Goldwire), he’s also a lot more confident. He’s shooting the three a lot better, he’s getting in the lane a lot, and he’s just making everybody else around him better. He’s the ultimate competitor and he’s ultimately one of our best guys to play with because all he wants to do is win.
"I could say the same thing for Joey (Baker) and Matt (Hurt). Joey is obviously one of the best shooters we have on the team, but now he has the opportunity more to put in a balance, make plays for others and he’s doing a great job at that. Matt Hurt – I’m sure you guys have all heard – he put on 20-30 pounds of weight when he was back home, and I think it’s helped him a lot. He’s a lot stronger, he’s able to defend bigger guys a lot better which gives us the opportunity to play him at the five (center) and give us more mismatches. We can take advantage of that on the offensive end because he’s obviously one of the best offensive players we have.
"Again for me, I could say the biggest thing for me is my confidence. I’m coming in a lot more confident in my game, just putting all my skills to the test back home that I worked on.”
On the team's strengths
“The strength of our team is our quickness. Coach mentions to us all the time that we’re not going to be the biggest team on the floor. There’s probably going to be one or two guys on the other team that are always bigger than us, so we have to use our quickness to our advantage, whether it’s in transition or whether it’s on the defensive end.
"We just have to pick out mismatches. Like I said, if we have Matt Hurt at the five, there’s a chance he’s going to have a 6-11 center on him. If he’s able to stretch him out to the three-point line, I think we can pick apart our mismatches.”
On the Black Lives Matter movement
“We’ve been one of the most active programs regarding Black Lives Matter in the country, because (assistant coach) Nolan Smith is a prominent figure in not only the Duke community but the Durham community, so he’s played a huge part in that.
"Also, Coach speaks out a lot for what he believes in and I feel like it gives us the confidence that he really believes in us. We all have his back, and we know that he has our back.”