Moore adjusts to a new life

Published 9:45 pm Friday, April 22, 2016

Ashton Moore’s life right now is a study in contrasts. But at least one important thing remains the same — he is taking care of business on the basketball court.

Former Nansemond River High School basketball standout Ashton Moore has been shining in his first year as a professional basketball player overseas.(The BC Beroe Basketball Club)

Former Nansemond River High School basketball standout Ashton Moore has been shining in his first year as a professional basketball player overseas.(The BC Beroe Basketball Club)

After a successful high school career at Nansemond River High School and a standout college career at The Citadel, The Military College of South Carolina, Moore has been enjoying a starring role as a professional basketball player on BC Beroe, a team in Bulgaria.

“It’s definitely been a great experience to be able to do what I love as a profession while getting out and experiencing different parts of the world,” Moore said.

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BC Beroe recently played in an international league called the Balkan League, which organized teams for competition by putting them in different groups.

“We lost in the semifinals to the top seed in the other group, and they’re returning champions of the Balkan League,” Moore said, referring to Sigal Prishtina. “They won it all last season.”

Moore noted that during his team’s run in this league, he was BC Beroe’s leading scorer.

The squad is now participating in a Bulgarian league called the National Basketball League and is third in the standings with a record of 20-7.

When his team was 19-6 and in the top three, Moore said, “It’s definitely added a tremendous boost to my confidence to come to a team who finished sixth place last season, and I know currently this is the best this team has ever done, and so I know that’s a great thing to put on my resume in terms of playing in the future.”

“It just shows that when you put that time in and really focus on chasing your dreams, that anything is possible,” he added.

Moore has had to make several adjustments, though.

First of all, the responsibility of being a leading scorer on the team is more evenly distributed among him and some of his teammates.

“We have a team where it’s very balanced scoring,” he said, estimating there are five or six players on BC Beroe averaging around the same amount of points per game, in the 10- to 13-point range.

Shooting guard Evrik Gary, who is from the United States, leads the team in points per game with 13.5. At point guard, Moore follows, averaging 12.0 points, 3.2 assists and 2.9 rebounds.

Center Aleksandar Todorovic averages 11.9 points, 5.5 rebounds and 1.2 assists per game, and shooting forward Auston Barnes of the U.S. averages 10.4 points and 6.6 rebounds per contest.

“It definitely creates more opportunities for myself because the floor is so open due to our balanced scoring,” Moore said. “It’s definitely a lot easier in terms of scoring and just playing the game without as much stress on myself.”

He has also had to adjust to a different style of play on offense compared to what he was used to at The Citadel.

Overseas, “it’s mainly pick-and-roll and a lot of ball movement and cuts, backdoors,” Moore said. “Then on defense, there’s a lot of ball pressure.”

He said his coach “stresses denying and pressing the ball full court and just trying to play a fast-paced style game, and coming in as a point guard from America, then just being transitioned into this style, it definitely was a piece of work. But I feel I’ve definitely gotten the hang of it now that we’re later into the season.”

Moore and his teammates are encouraged to take advantage of opportunities to shoot early in the running of a play, something that is, in part, a by-product of a 24-second shot clock. In college, he was used to having 35 seconds.

He has also adapted to a very different life outside of basketball while living in Stara Zagora in Bulgaria.

“I understand he’s playing really well,” Nansemond River coach Ed Young said. “I’m not surprised because I know that kid has the desire to be good. I didn’t know he would play this well this quick.”

Young noted that the difficulty adjusting to a different kind of life and homesickness can be significant forces, but “apparently he’s suppressed them enough to have a great year.”