The Syracuse Orange will honor all-time leading scorer Lawrence Moten during tomorrow’s game against the Clemson Tigers. Moten’s No. 21 jersey will be recognized alongside the program’s greatest players and as Mike Waters wrote, it’s something no one would have predicted when Moten arrived at Syracuse.
I was in my second year at SU and after our practices we would find a spot in Manley Field House to watch the basketball team practice as we stretched. The big news that Fall was the arrival of McDonald’s All-American Anthony Harris and local star Lazarus Sims so we were always eager to get an early look at the team. One afternoon as we sat we kept hearing a high-pitched “AAAAAHHHHHH!!” coming from the court. Everytime we looked over we saw this skinny dude with his Manley-issued socks dunking the ball. My friend Travis knew more of the players and when we asked who that was, he said it was Lawrence Moten and that he had gone to high school with then-Cuse QB Marvin Graves.
He wasn’t the big name in what was a large recruiting class, but before that Fall semester ended Moten was a fixture in the starting line-up for the Orange. Watching him play throughout his Syracuse career was a case study in efficiency and basketball IQ. You’d watch the game and think that he was held in check only to see the final stats and see 18 or 19 points along with a handful of rebounds and assists.
Moten didn’t dazzle with athleticism (even though he was a better athlete than we give him credit) or flash, but he worked to find seams in the defense. He only needed a bit of space and he would score with an array of mid-range shots, offensive rebounds and timely cuts to the basket. One might argue that he’s Syracuse’s most under-appreciated basketball great because his era is defined by a post-season ban and two heart-breaking overtime losses in the NCAA Tournament.
A few years ago I had the opportunity to get to know Lawrence a little better. I remember the pride in which he talked about his daughters and the passion he felt for Syracuse University. On one occasion he gave me a basketball card which showed him driving past Michael Jordan and I could sense the pride he felt in having the moment captured. As I think back to that moment and his career, I realize that Lawrence should feel proud of his basketball career and what he has meant to Syracuse Basketball fans. The All-Time Big East leading scorer has certainly earned it.
What are some of your favorite Moten Moments? Share them in the comments below.