By DOUG IRELAND, Journal Sports
It’s been quite a while since anyone recruiting boys basketball players for LSU didn’t have to ask for directions to gyms around Louisiana.
With the hiring of 16-year Northwestern State assistant coach Jeff Moore as recruiting coordinator, the Tigers are getting somebody who’s personally been there, in the bleachers or standing along the baselines.
New LSU coach Matt McMahon announced Moore and the rest of his staff Thursday. The former Murray State coach wants to develop strong relationships with Louisiana high schools, a hallmark of the Demons’ program in 23 seasons under Mike McConathy, who departed NSU on March 14.
“Coach McMahon is a really good guy like coach Mike, and an excellent basketball coach. It’s a pretty easy transition,” said Moore. “And it’s a great opportunity, a perfect fit for me and I think, for LSU.
“He really wants to connect with the high school coaches and do our best job recruiting in Louisiana. He has built a great staff and has a vision to bring championship basketball to LSU on a continuing basis.”
At three of Moore’s five previous coaching stops, including at Northwestern, he recruited and signed the schools’ all-time leading scorers – each of them from Louisiana. During his years with McConathy, Moore recruited the Demons’ career leaders in scoring (Zeek Woodley of Pelican in DeSoto Parish), assists (Bossier High’s Jalan West) and blocked shots (William Mosley from Huntington).
He has recruited extensively throughout Louisiana and Texas, and also widened the Demons’ scope nationally and internationally. He played and coached in the Midwest and has a vast network of coaching contacts around the nation.
“When I was a junior college coach, first as an assistant and then as a head coach, I recruited high level players who went on from our programs to Power Five teams, brand name schools. Having been a JUCO coach gives me great appreciation for that level, and it also taught me how to successfully recruit talented young men from high schools around the country,” he said.
Moore has been quickly reunited with one of LSU’s new signees, former Demon standout Kendal Coleman, a first-team All-Southland player this season. The second-year freshman center prepped at Captain Shreve.
“We’re excited about Kendal. He lives in the gym. He soaks stuff up. The progression he has made each of the past three years has been so impressive, and a result of his work ethic and ability to be coached,” said Moore. “I have no doubt that he will continue to improve and he will thrive at LSU.”
Moore was one of four finalists interviewed to replace McConathy. He and the rest of the fulltime NSU staff were not retained by new Demons’ coach Corey Gipson.
“I’ve worked for the best man in college basketball, Mike McConathy, for 16 years,” said Moore. “I’m blessed to be able to stay in Louisiana and work for another high-caliber person and extremely accomplished coach at our state’s flagship institution.”
Leaving Natchitoches and Northwestern for Baton Rouge and LSU is bittersweet for Moore, who once told former athletics director Greg Burke “NSU is a great place to have a bad day” because of the close family feel not only in athletics, but around campus.
“Natchitoches has a strong south Louisiana feel, and that made it feel like home to me,” said Moore, a native of Lake Arthur in southwest Louisiana who got his master’s degree from NSU a decade before coming to work there. The high school gym at Lake Arthur is named in tribute to his late father “Nooky” Moore, a successful prep coach, and the court is named for LSU’s new recruiting coordinator.
“My kids (NCHS volleyball standout Gracie, and elementary schooler Caige) know nothing else but Natchitoches, and (wife) Amy poured herself into the community. So many people at Northwestern and supporters of the university have become our dear, dear friends, and that’s tough to leave, but in the coaching business, this is what can happen,” he said. “We leave some of our hearts behind. We were blessed to be here for so long and now we’re very blessed by this opportunity at LSU.”