This weekend at the National HS Hoops Festival, I got a chance to see an interesting matchup between SFs Arnaud Moto (Alexandria, Va./Episcopal) and Jordan Burgess(Richmond, Va./Benedictine) and I came away very impressed with how Burgess did against his ESPNU 100 counterpart.
These are different players going to different leagues -- Moto is headed to Wake Forest and Burgess is going to VCU, where his brother played. Moto is a physical specimen of explosion, strength and ability in the lane, while Burgess is a skilled wing whose brother got better every year and wound up in the Final Four as a junior with the VCU rams.
On Saturday, Burgess got the best of the matchup with 13 points and 13 rebounds. The VCU pledge dove to the post (they didn’t give it to him), made a 3 and rebounded like you’d expect. Moto (6 points, 8 rebounds, 3-16 FG) did not play well. Let’s get this out of the way and it’s not an excuse it is fact: Moto’s three weeks back from a summer knee injury, however, I’d contend his injury had little to do with his game against Burgess.
Moto is a small forward or matchup problem at the 4. Against Burgess, he strayed to the perimeter and missed the basket four times. The issue isn’t the misses -- he’s never been a great shooter -- it’s the fact that he didn’t play to his strengths that is frustrating. Moto should live in the lane. He’s physical and can face and go; those are indisputable facts. His affinity for taking deep shots is not going to happen long term, unless he proves himself as a consistent threat. Part of maximizing your ability is knowing who you are. Moto is a talent. Asking him to stay aggressive inside the arc isn’t holding him down; it’s helping him realize who he is.
Burgess’ team lost the game, however, he won the matchup because of his willingness to do the dirty work. Moto’s been at his best with a talented Team Takeover when he’s played his role. In college, while playing alongside talent, he’ll have to find that niche again.
We’re constantly evaluating and when head-to-head matchups are involved, much can be gained. As a result, don't be surprised if Burgess finds his way into the ESPNU 100 because in this matchup, he proved he is more prepared for his college role than Moto.