Emily Buckley, editor in chief
For father and son duo Jimmy and Jalen Moore, basketball is much more than a game — it’s life. Individually and together, Jimmy and Jalen have spent their lives dedicated to playing, watching, and now teaching basketball.
“The game of basketball is fairly simple,” Jalen said. “But it is a hard sport to be good at — it is hard to be great. The skill level that the game is played at now is very advanced … that’s what people have a hard time understanding. If you want to be good, you have to be good at every skill: you have to dribble, shoot, pass, finish, defend, and think the game too.”
The Moore Family “bleeds blue,” and basketball is “just what they do as a family.” Jimmy said. Both Jimmy and Jalen, along with Jalen’s brother Grayson, are Utah State University (USU) basketball alumni.
Jimmy was raised in Mississippi and played for USU from 1972 to 1975. He still ranks high on USU’s all-time scoring and rebounding lists. He was inducted into the Utah State Athletics Hall of Fame in 2013. After college, Jimmy played for the NBA Seattle Supersonics and then had a 10-year international basketball career before coming full circle to return as an assistant coach at USU, and ultimately retired as assistant athletic director in 2018.
Jalen was recruited out of high school to play for USU after leading his Sky View High School basketball team to a state championship in 2013. He led the Aggies in scoring and rebounding for three consecutive seasons. He was recruited to the NBA Milwaukee Bucks and played in their 2017 summer league before returning to train young athletes in Cache Valley.
In 2018, Jimmy, Jalen, and Jalen’s brother Grayson founded Next Level Basketball as way to stay involved with a game they love.
Brothers Grayson and Jalen Moore played for the Aggies in the 2015-2016 season.
Jalen and Jimmy Moore now train and coach through their program Next Level Basketball.
“When I was done playing the game, I didn’t want to be done being around it,” Jalen said. “[Starting Next Level] gave me an opportunity to continue being on the court and take my skills and knowledge and share it to try to help the kids achieve their goals.”
Next Level Basketball offers group, individual, and team basketball training for athletes as young as 7. They also offer AAU (Amateur Athletic Union) teams designed to help players ages 12 to 18 from in and around Cache Valley get the best exposure they can if they have the desire and potential to play at the college level. Players compete in spring and summer basketball tournaments at locations all over the western United States.
Jimmy Moore was recruited from his high school in Mississippi to play for USU in 1972. He went on to play in the NBA and in Europe before returning to coach at USU.
Jimmy and Jalen Moore enjoy helping prepare young athletes for the next level of their sport.
“Through advanced coaching, players gain the experience and confidence they need to succeed in high level competition,” Jalen said.
Grayson, who also played for USU as a senior after a playing at a junior college in Sheridan Wyoming and D3 school Northwest Nazarene in Nampa, Idaho, no longer lives in Cache Valley, but joins his brother and dad in training and coaching on occasion, both locally and at travel tournaments.
“When we talk about coaching teams it is important to understand that we aren’t trying to take the place of high school coaches,” Jimmy said. “We are just another addition to help kids hone skills in the off season — trying to add on to what they’ve built during the season and keep them working toward their goals.”
Jalen says that there are a lot of capable players in the Valley, but he feels that it is easy for them to get overlooked in comparison to players from bigger areas. “Our goal is to help the high school players get more exposure [in an AAU league],” he said.
Jalen and Jimmy both say a program like this is a great opportunity for players who want to go further in the sport, but it isn’t the only way. “The internet is free,” Jalen said. “Study up, watch the sport. Then go to the gym and work at it on your own. You just need ball and a hoop to practice … and a lot of time, energy, and effort.”
Jalen recalls spending long hours every day shooting hoops with his dad and brother in their driveway. “One of the best things my dad did to prepare me to play at the next level, was just being willing to go outside and rebound. He gave us the support we needed. Obviously, we had the advantage of his knowledge and experience in the game, but just the time made a big difference.”
Jimmy explains that the difference of a good player and great player is a passion. “One of the first questions I would ask a freshman who has goals of playing in college is ‘do you love the game?’” he said. “A lot of people like the game. If you like the game, you play during the season. If you love the game, though, you’re in the gym on your own, you work with a trainer, you’re trying to get better. The ones who are in the gym taking extra shots after the game is over – they love the game.”
He added: “They don’t give away scholarships; you earn scholarships … through hard work, love of the game, and dedication.”
Jimmy and Jalen agree that there is more that comes from the hard work and dedication to a sport, any sport, than just excelling in athletics. “It is more than a game,” Jimmy said. “This is true with all sports. Commitment to a sport teaches kids how to deal with adversity. They work hard and there is still sometimes disappointment. They have to learn how do deal with adversity … how to deal with things when they don’t go your way.”
For Jalen, basketball has added a lot of depth to his life. “I was blessed by the opportunities that came through the game,” he said. “Traveling, meeting people — coaches, teammates, lifelong friends — and getting an education while playing the sport I love. I love everything about it. You play the game, technically, for 40 minutes a night, but it is everything about it that makes it more than a game and gives you life lessons that help you grow as a person.”
Jimmy likes to remind kids that the road to a goal is not always a straight line, but that they shouldn’t lose focus on their goal. “That’s exactly what happened to Grayson,” Jimmy said, referring to his stops at other schools before finishing his college basketball career at USU.
“I had a lot of great moments on the basketball court,” Jimmy said. “But if I had had to choose a highlight right now it would be, and I won’t forget this, the night I was sitting in the spectrum with my wife as a spectator, watching both our kids start in a game together at Utah State. I was watching their dream come true.”
The Moores hope that through their program they can help others achieve their dreams too.