On Tuesday afternoon, UNLV forward Mike Moser made Oregon coach Dana Altman so happy the coach couldn't contain his beverage:
"He said he spilled his coffee all over himself," Moser told the Oregonian. "He was really excited."
Why all the excitement and/or dangerous coffee burns? Because when Moser called, it was to let Altman know that he had chosen the Ducks as his final collegiate destination for 2013-14, when he will play his senior season of eligibility as a graduate student. Moser had been considering Washington and Gonzaga, but ultimately he wanted to be as close to home as possible. Fun fact: Oregon is Moser's homestate. So that worked out!
The question, of course, is whether it will work for Oregon. Moser was a highly sought-after graduate exemption chip this offseason, no thanks to his 2012-13 season. Two years ago, as a sophomore, Moser was a beast, an athletic and versatile power forward who dominated the glass for the Runnin' Rebels. Even better, Moser's body and skill set looked ready to blossom; he was almost too easy to imagine as an NBA small forward. He was the prototype.
The only problem? He's not a college small forward, at least not yet. Last season, as he moved more to the perimeter, his averages dropped from 14.0 points to 7.1, from 10.5 rebounds per game to 6.1. It was ugly stuff, but it was the work of a player lost in an attempt to revolutionize himself in the midst of a college basketball season. That 14.0 and 10.5 line didn't vanish into thin air. It's still in there.
It will be Altman's job to extract it once more. Moser has the ability to be not only a great rebounder but an immense defender, not dissimilar in size and physical ability to last year's hugely important transfer (and possibly Bill Walton's favorite player), forward Arsalan Kazemi. Kazemi is gone but a solid, young group remains, and Moser -- if he is at his best in his hometown -- could be a lynchpin.