HANCEVILLE, ALA. – Wallace State's men's basketball guard Lee Moore shined last season during the Lions' appearance at the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) Division I national tournament in Hutchinson, Kansas, scoring 28 points in an overtime victory over Westchester (N.Y) Community College.
That's when Wallace State coach John Meeks felt four-year institutions began to seriously court his sophomore shooting guard.
The University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP) won Moore's services in the end.
Moore, a Kennesaw, Ga. native, inked a letter of intent during Wednesday's early signing period to play for the Miners and coach Tim Floyd next season.
"It's exciting to know I'm going to UTEP next season. It's a great feeling. UTEP came after me hard over the summer, and I chose them because I thought it was the best fit for me and where I could be the most successful," said Moore, who stands 6-foot-5. "They have a good coaching staff and a lot of seniors leaving next year, so hopefully it will give me a chance to come in and play right away."
Moore, the No. 8 junior college recruit in the nation according to 247 sports, had a phenomenal freshman season for the Lions during the 2013-14 campaign. He averaged 18 points, a team-high 7.2 rebounds and 3.1 assists per game, leading Wallace State to a 28-7 record and the Alabama Community College Conference (ACCC)/Region 22 regular season and conference tournament titles. Moore was named the 2014 ACCC/Region tournament MVP after pouring in 53 points over a three-game stretch and also earned a first-team All-Region 22 selection.
"Lee really set himself apart as a freshman and helped us make such a deep run last season. He was a big part of all the good things that team did last year and had one of his biggest games on a national stage," Meeks said. "In my 10 years of coaching, Lee Moore has received interest from the highest collegiate level I can remember and will be an asset to UTEP."
Moore, who also drew interest from Clemson, North Carolina State, Louisiana Lafayette and Georgia Southern, among others, is averaging 18 points through three games this season for Wallace State (2-1). He'll play at UTEP for Floyd, who has coached on the collegiate and professional levels, including with the Chicago Bulls and New Orleans Hornets.
"Lee is a very talented guard that can help us at multiple positions," Floyd said on the UTEP website Wednesday. "He comes in with junior college experience, having led his team to the national tournament. He is a really smooth shooter and can really create for others. He has the ability to get in the lane and finish in traffic. Being that he has two years of college experience, we feel he can come in and impact our team immediately."
UTEP competes in Conference USA.
Meanwhile, Wallace State softball has three players signing during the early period.
Sarah Jordan, a sophomore outfielder from Bowling Green, Ky., is signing with UAH after hitting .336 with a pair of homers, 22 RBIs and a team-high 10 steals last season for Wallace State. She is slated for a starting outfield spot for the Lions this season.
Brooke Kinsey and Katlyn Whitehead have committed to play for Blue Mountain College in Tupelo, Miss.
Wallace State baseball has a sophomore trio set to sign later this week.
Chad Smith has pledged his intentions to Ole Miss, becoming the fourth Wallace State pitcher in as many years set to sign with an SEC school. Smith went 2-4 last season with a 4.05 ERA in 17 appearances, including six starts.
Infielder Chris Blakey will sign with UNA and Landon Hughes with Georgia Southern. Hughes went 1-1 with a 3.33 ERA and four saves last season for the Lions, striking out 29 hitters in 27 innings as Wallace State's closer.
Wallace State has additional sophomore across all of its sports still mulling four-year offers.