Last season the Tennessee State men's basketball team had its first winning record since the 1995-96 season. The team finished second in the OVC and upset nationally ranked Murray State during the regular season.
A substantial part of the team's success was the strong post presence provided by senior Kenny Moore. Last year, Moore averaged seven points and three rebounds per game in leading the Tigers to a 20-13 record.
Moore left TSU following last season and graduated in May. However, his playing career was not over. The Cheshire Jets of the British Basketball League called Moore's agent and the two sides just worked out a deal that allows Moore to play for the club this season.
"It still hasn't sunk in yet that I am a professional basketball player, and I have no clue if it will ever sink in," Moore said.
The signing is a dream come true for Moore, but he quickly found out that playing for the Jets is far different than playing for the TSU Tigers.
"The experience has been great so far, but it is like a whole new world over here," Moore said. "The game is different here because there are more isolations, and it has a more open-floor style."
After college, most people get a job and learn to succeed in the working world. The same is true for Moore, but with a twist. He has now had to adjust to living and working in a completely different time zone where his friends and family are thousands of miles away.
"Right now, I am just trying to get adjusted to the time difference. I am still going to bed at seven a.m.," Moore laughed. "People are nice over here, so it's just a good experience so far."
Through the hectic transition, Moore already realizes how well-prepared he was for the next level by attending Tennessee State.
"I went to a couple of other colleges before coming to TSU, but I have to say that the TSU coaching staff prepared me for making the jump. [Coach Travis Williams] made sure I had my head on straight and pointed me in the right direction," Moore said.
Moore also said that attending Tennessee State taught him invaluable lessons that didn't just apply to basketball:
"Coach Williams taught me how to speak professionally and how to act when you are away from home. I always say that attending TSU was the best experience of my life because the school taught me how to be a man."
Clearly, the experience of playing professional basketball is a milestone for Moore, but it also speaks to program that Tennessee State has built the last few years.
"Our top priority will always be to make sure that our players graduate, but we also develop them into players that will have the opportunity to play professionally once they get out," Williams said.
TSU and the coaches taught Moore a lot during his time as a Tiger, and his hard work and dedication have paid off. In his first game as a member of the Jets on Sept. 29, Moore had 14 points and a team-high 10 rebounds. It was his first double-double in his professional career, and more are sure to follow.
-- TSU TIGERS --