Having double-digit scholarship offers made the recruiting process feel like "a lot of pressure" to Bruce Moore. Making things less complicated, however, was the McDonogh star's insistence on going to a "high-academic school."
"In early June, me and my mom were talking a lot about things after college [and] getting a job," Moore said. "I thought, 'OK, I might as well look for an academic school.' … I tried to stick to most of the Patriot League offers."
Though he had several Atlantic 10 and CAA scholarships, Moore eventually narrowed his list of options to American, Bucknell, Colgate and Navy. On Tuesday, the 6-foot-8, 205-pound forward picked the Bison.
"When I went to Bucknell, as soon as I went there, it just clicked. It reminded me of McDonogh, with the buildings and class sizes," Moore said. "The guys were great. The coaches are young and cool; I can relate to them. It just seemed like a place I could be. It's in a rural area, so not like a city with buildings everywhere. It will keep me focused with school and basketball. As soon as I went there, I said to myself, 'This place could really help me.'"
Moore said he started getting some looks from colleges as a sophomore at McDonogh. He told his mother that he was "going to get a scholarship one day and go to school for free." A junior season in which he averaged 12 points and 10 rebounds confirmed that his goal of tuition-free college was within reach. Playing with Maryland 3D on the AAU circuit last spring and summer clinched it.
"He's just a tireless, relentless worker," said Maryland 3D coach Tim Miller. "He really, really came on. He's just an explosive athlete. He just turned himself into a shooter. He always could attack the glass, always had a high motor, but as the year wore on he just continued to work on his skills and his game. He just got better and better and better. By the end of the summer, he was a beast. We probably played nine Nike teams; we were 5-4 in those games. We lost to Team Philly, lost to Team Takeover, and we lost to the New Jersey Playaz. No lie, Bruce was probably one of the two best players on the floor every time."
Miller said Moore multiple posted 30-point, 20-rebound games that caught the attention of Drexel, La Salle, VCU, Towson and several other mid-major-plus programs. But if a school didn't have the academic reputation that Moore sought, Miller said his player – who's interested in studying business management or finance – politely rebuffed those inquiries.
Moore ended up visiting his four Patriot League finalists and was quickly smitten with Bucknell, which has made six NCAA tournament appearances. He spoke to the Bison athletic director on his visit about the 2005 upset of third-seeded Kansas, and the most recent tourney berth in 2013. Bucknell's recent history was more impressive than the majority of other schools recruiting Moore.
Factoring in academics and his preexisting relationships with freshman guard Kimbal Mackenzie (John Carroll) and sophomore forward Zach Thomas (Oakdale), and the decision for Moore was an easy one.
"Around the Baltimore area, [some people asked] 'why did you choose a lower-level school to go to?' But Bucknell's been to the NCAA tournament. … [So] I'm just excited to get started."