Utah State’s 83-69 loss to Nevada in the quarterfinals of the Mountain West Conference Tournament did not just bring the end to the Aggies’ season, but also the end of an era.
For the past four years, Jalen Moore has been Aggie basketball. Moore has been the face and the body of the program. Afros have been as much a mascot as Big Blue himself.
Now, that’s over. Moore has suited up in an Aggie uniform for the final time. He sure went out in style, scoring a career-high 27 points and also passing his father, Jimmy Moore, on the all-time rebounding list at Utah State.
It’s almost a microcosm for the Aggies as a team during the time of Moore. USU was never able to fully overcome their demons, so to speak. Moore was constantly putting up numbers and contributing to the success of the team, but the Aggies were never able to reward his effort with the team success Moore would have traded his personal stats for in a heartbeat.
Part of that can be attributed to the turmoil that faced the program during Moore’s time in Logan. For the first time in two decades, players were faced with having to play for a different coach than the one who recruited them. Stew Morrill, before Jalen Moore, was Aggie basketball. Without him, the program had no identity, no face. Until Moore and his glorious afro stepped in to lead the Aggies through some of their darker years in program history.
“It’s been a blessing to play with all the players I’ve played with, the coaches I’ve played for. It’s just been a fun run,” Moore said. “I appreciate the coaches giving me the opportunity to play here and just playing with all the different teammates has been fun. There’s nothing like college basketball, so it’s been a really fun four years of my life.”
It’s almost scary to think where the Aggies would be without Jalen Moore’s stabilizing presence on the team. The former two-star recruit was fairly unheralded coming out of nearby Sky View High School, but followed in his father’s footsteps to Utah State University and gave the school his all. His effort and sacrifice over the past four years cannot be understated.
But like most good things, there had to be an end. I don’t know fully know what’s next for either Utah State basketball or for Jalen Moore. The team will play on without Moore, but how can it be the same without the entire student section recognizing Moore’s afro before and during every game? Meanwhile, Moore will be pursuing a career in the NBA or possibly overseas. In short, life goes on for them, but what about for us as fans?
That is where the term ‘end of an era’ is quite informative, because it literally is the end of an era. We will never see Moore playing in an Aggie uniform again. That is straight-up weird.
Is it the end of the world? No. Is it the end of the Aggie basketball team? No. We still have Koby McEwen. We still have Sam Merrill. I am merely raising the flag and recognizing what Jalen Moore means to Aggie basketball and what Aggie basketball means to Jalen Moore.
“He has been a phenomenal representative of our program in the airport, on the airplane, in a restaurant,” head coach Tim Duryea said following Moore’s final game. “People compliment him, us, all the time, regarding the kind of representative he is for Utah State, and that doesn’t even say anything about scoring a basket or the kind of player he is. We can all see that. He really is what college basketball is supposed to be about. Great kid. Great student. Great player.”
Moore has written his name everywhere in the Aggies’ record books. Ninth in points. 16th in rebounds. 27th in assists. Seventh in blocks. Fifth in total minutes played. It’s as if Moore wrote his name down with his own blood, sweat, and tears. He should be celebrated accordingly.
Moore will forever be an Aggie, clad in Aggie blue and fighting white. For that, I applaud.