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Towson Tigers guard Mike Morsell watches forward Arnaud William Adala Moto (right) slap the ball from UNC Wilmington Seahawks center C.J. Gettys (23) as he fails to power to the basket during an early CAA matchup at Towson University.
Towson Tigers guard Mike Morsell watches forward Arnaud William Adala Moto (right) slap the ball from UNC Wilmington Seahawks center C.J. Gettys (23) as he fails to power to the basket during an early CAA matchup at Towson University. (Karl Merton Ferron / Baltimore Sun)

This past summer, Arnaud William Adala Moto hit the courts often in anticipation of his redshirt junior campaign for the Towson men's basketball team. But rather than just playing H-O-R-S-E or lazily taking shots, Adala Moto carried a notebook with a written plan for each trip.

One day, the goal was to sink 80 of 100 free throws. The next day, the forward tried to make 70 of 100 3-pointers.

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Adala Moto hasn't needed the notebook much since the season began. But the Cameroon native's determination to improve his game has remained unchanged.

"Before practice, depending on who we're playing and if we're expecting to see a zone, I'm putting an emphasis on stuff like floaters or finishing around the basket or driving," Adala Moto said after Tuesday's practice. "That's the little stuff. For shooting free throws, I want to make sure that my footwork is right. It's those tiny details."

Adala Moto's work ethic has made a favorable impression with teammates like junior forward John Davis, who is no slouch in the practice department.

"I know some guys like me, I may go to the gym and work on my game and know what I need to work on," he said. "But he comes to the gym and says, 'I need to do 100 of this and 100 of that.' He has it written down in his book. So it's just amazing to me to see how he's so organized and what he wants to do to fine-tune his game. He already knows what he has to do. … He's definitely a blessing for me because he motivates me to do more."

Adala Moto, who prefers to be called William, is slated to make his 16th start in 17 games when the Tigers (11-5 overall and 2-1 in the Colonial Athletic Association) travel to James Madison (11-5, 1-2) on Saturday.

After transferring from Wake Forest, Adala Moto has made an immediate impact in his first year at Towson. He leads the team in rebounding (7.3 per game), is tied with senior forward Timajh Parker-Rivera for the team lead in steals (16 each), and ranks second in scoring (14.2 per game). He has scored 10 points or more in 11 straight contests and has been a boon for coach Pat Skerry.

"He is the hardest worker I've ever been around," Skerry said. "It's almost like you've got to shut him down sometimes. He wants to be back in the gym. He's the first guy at shoot-arounds, first guy in film, first guy on the practice court. He's a really good teammate."

Adala Moto played in 64 games and started in 30 in his first two years with the Demon Deacons, but chose to transfer after the 2013-14 campaign for a chance to play in the NCAA tournament.

After considering George Washington and Davidson, Adala Moto settled on the Tigers after watching how Jerrelle Benimon blossomed in two seasons since moving from Georgetown.

The 6-foot-6, 246-pound Adala Moto and 6-8, 245-pound Benimon — who is playing in the Chinese Basketball Association — have similar builds, but Skerry said they have their differences. Skerry said he specifically wants Adala Moto to seize control of games as Benimon did for Towson.

"We want him to physically assert himself a little more consistently," Skerry said. "When he carries the ball in transition and attacks the rim with crisp decisions, he's really difficult [to stop]. He's athletic and strong and good at getting to the foul line. I think once in a while, when he experiments or gets cute with a move, then there's mixed results. But he's a difference guy. He's got great talent, and we want to give him the ball in different positions on the floor and let him make plays. When he does that, other guys feed off of him."

Adala Moto, who doesn't mind the comparisons to Benimon, agreed with his coach and said he's trying to strike a balance between looking for his shot and keeping his teammates involved.

"I try to do whatever I can to help the team win," he said. "I don't care if that's scoring, rebounding, guarding. That's why I'm here, try to help the team win and do everything I can. I just try to be a versatile player."

For a player of his size, Adala Moto is surprisingly adept at handling the ball. In Thursday night's 76-60 thumping of UNC-Wilmington, the Tigers used Adala Moto to dribble the ball and break the Seahawks' vaunted full-court press. Adala Moto led all scorers with 20 points on a career-high 13 free throws in 14 attempts and grabbed eight rebounds, and UNCW coach Kevin Keatts said Adala Moto's versatility makes him a valuable asset.

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"He's a great pick-up for Pat," Keatts said. "He's a mismatch problem because you can play him at the 3, you can play him at the 4. He's physical, and the tough thing about [Adala] Moto is, he makes his free throws."

Like any collegiate player, Adala Moto, who is majoring in economics, harbors dreams of playing basketball professionally. But he said he isn't looking at anything beyond what he can do to help the Tigers reach the NCAA tournament for the first time since 1991.

"Right now, the ultimate goal is to win the CAA," he said. "That's why I transferred here to Towson. I want to win the CAA and go to the NCAA tournament. After that, whether I play overseas or in the NBA or in the D-League, I don't really know."

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