Temple forward J.P. Moorman II passes the ball against Tulsa at the Liacouras Center.
During his freshman year for the Temple Owls, forward J.P. Moorman II only averaged 3.8 points per game, 3.3 rebounds per game, and 0.7 assists per game. Those are numbers that can be easily ignored when looking at a box score. But Moorman was a clear example of how stats don’t tell the whole story. In this case, Moorman passed the “eye test.” Despite the numbers, Moorman provided a noticeable presence due to the versatility and energy he brought to the floor.
He showed off guard-like skills while hanging around the perimeter, but also banged down low with his 6-foot-7, 205-pound frame. He’s not a pure big man, but once he’s put in the lineup he can fill a void at either the small forward or power forward position. Regardless, he showed a relentless ability to attack the boards. This past season, he led the Owls in offensive rebounding percentage at 10.6%, doing so with pure will as a spark plug off the bench.
In a 59-58 win against Tulsa on January 17, he grabbed seven total rebounds, including a huge offensive board on Temple’s last possession which led to a Josh Brown game winning basket (off of Moorman’s assist).
So the question remains, why weren’t his minutes consistent from the start of the season to the end?
One answer is the amount of big men the team had this year. Senior Obi Enechionyia and junior Ernest Aflakpui were both starters, while sophomore Damion Moore had already spent a year learning in head coach Fran Dunphy’s system as a regular contributor. Two of the Owls’ other commits from the class of 2017, De’Vondre Perry and Justyn Hamilton, were trying to establish themselves in Dunphy’s lineup as well.
Enechionyia and Aflakpui were going to get minutes regardless of their performances because they were the two most experienced big men on the team. Perry had a few injuries throughout the year and had close to the same averages as Moorman. Moore only averaged 9.5 minutes per game, missed seven games in the middle of the year (five due to an ankle injury) and the only two games he really had an impact on were against South Carolina and Auburn in November. Meanwhile, Hamilton barely saw the floor and still needs to prove himself over the summer and into next season.
As a result, Moorman logged six DNP’s in first 12 games, while scoring only one field goal and underperforming the high expectations fans had for the freshman class. It took until a 19-minute, 9-point performance against Houston for the tides to turn. Moorman never looked back.
Moorman would go on to have multiple accomplishments during the season that went unnoticed. He had multiple double-digit rebound games, the first time a Temple freshman has done that since Keith Butler’s 2002-03 season. Moreover, in the program’s 1900th win against East Carolina on February 17, he recorded his first collegiate double-double with 12 rebounds and 11 points. It was also the first time since Lavoy Allen in 2008 that a Temple freshman had a double-double with points and rebounds.
From the Owls’ win against Tulsa on January 17 to their 83-76 win against Tulane on February 4, Moorman averaged 15.8 minutes per game, 3.8 points, 5 rebounds, 1.3 assists, and 1.1 steals.
The Owls went 5-1 over that span, turning their season around and putting them back on to the bubble for the NCAA Tournament.
Moorman not only produced, but he showed grit and toughness, as he fought through pain with ice on his left knee after the Owls’ opening round win of the AAC tournament against Tulane. Still, he said he would attempt to give it a go one day later when the Owls took on Wichita State.
He ended up playing in the game, notching a season high 27 minutes in a game in which the Shockers were almost upset by the Owls again. He had 8 points, 3 rebounds, and 1 assist in the contest, compiling an average of 9 points and 4 rebounds over the Owls’ two conference tournament games.
In an article by Philly.com, senior point guard Josh Brown said of Moorman, “He stepped up for us this game, kept us in it especially down the stretch and he plays with extreme confidence.”
Brown added later on, “He has leadership qualities, man, he is vocal and he stand alone and he is physical. I love playing with the kid and I know all his teammates here love playing with him too.”
Based on reviews from his teammates and how he outshined most of the other frontcourt members with energy and versatility, Moorman should have came in as the team’s sixth-man and arguably should have started some games as well.
With that being said, that is the past, and coaches Dunphy and Aaron McKie should increase Moorman’s role a lot more next season.
Enechionyia has since graduated, and the Owls are looking for someone to partner up with Aflakpui. He could even take on somewhat of a point-forward role next year, as a player who can grab rebounds and bring the ball down the floor.
The Owls didn’t have a deep rotation this year, and most of the players in that rotation are coming back next year. The Owls will be a relatively young team, with rising juniors and sophomores leading the way. Moorman should fit in quite well with the rest of those players, who include Quinton Rose, Nate Pierre-Louis, and Alani Moore II. All four players are energy guys who can play fast together while generating steals, blocks, and fastbreak points.
Especially with Rose recently pulling his name out of the NBA Draft pool, Moorman should fit in quite well with the young core that the Owls have going forward.
However, one thing that Moorman will need to improve is his shooting touch. He showed flashes, but, throughout the season, he was not a consistent threat from deep. He can already score in the lane while creating plays with his passing ability, so developing his shooting range could make him into a valuable stretch four, similar to the role that Enechionyia took on during his time with the Owls.
If Moorman is able to work on that and take advantage of the opportunities thrown his way, Temple fans should see him on the court a lot more next season.