Believed to be the first 7-footer to ever suit up for Oklahoma Christian University, senior basketball center John Moon has received dozens of honors during his first three years of play for the Eagles, including recently being named to the Clarence “Bevo” Francis Award watch list for the second straight season on Jan. 15.
The organization named the accounting major from Crescent as one of 100 players under consideration for the Bevo Francis Award, which will be presented to the player who has had the top overall basketball season in the NCAA Division II and III, NAIA Division I and II, USCAA or NCCAA.
“It’s an honor,” Moon said. “The list has some of the best players who are playing right now, so to be named among them feels really good.”
Moon said he heard of Oklahoma Christian when he was playing Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) basketball in high school.
“OC was actually the only school to offer me a scholarship,” Moon said. “They came to one of my games and sent me a letter, but I actually had to come to Cage Camp for them to offer me something. I think they forgot about me initially so I had to remind them.”
From a perfect 20-for-20 shooting game on Feb. 6, 2016, which he finished with 50 points, to being Oklahoma Christian’s first CoSIDA All-America first-team selection, Head Basketball Coach Cory Cole said he was excited to have the chance to work with Moon in his final season as an Eagle.
“I heard about John two years ago when I came to visit Coach Hays,” Cole said. “I remember thinking that he was a promising prospect. He had talent and he is a great kid, too. When he had his 50-point game I remember thinking, ‘He’s going to be around for one more year? Oh, yeah.’”
Moon entered his senior season seventh in the league in career shooting with 1,423 points, a streak of 53 games with at least one blocked shot and a 26-game streak of double-digit scoring performances. So far this season, he has 261 points, 143 rebounds and 44 blocked shots in 17 games.
Moon was named to the Sporting News preseason DII All-America team and was the only unanimous selection on the inaugural preseason All-Heartland Conference men’s basketball team. He was also named the Heartland Conference Player of the Week on Dec. 12 after he had 26 points and a season-high 15 rebounds against Central Christian College.
“He has really good soft touch around the basket,” Cole said. “He is really skilled defensively, a tremendous shot blocker, strong rebounder and a good defender on the pick-and-roll. He loves to finish and dunk around the basket and he has good range even though he is 7-feet tall.”
With his 14 points against Dallas Baptist University on Thursday, Moon moved into 12th place on the Oklahoma Christian career leading scorers list with 1,684 career points. According to Sports Information Director Murray Evans, Moon should enter the top-10 list before the end of the season.
“At his current pace, he would have 1,834 points by the end of the regular season, although that is obviously subject to change game to game,” Evans said. “Realistically, he could get as high as fourth, passing Coach Cole, who scored 1,916 points from 1990 to 1994, but he would need to pick up his scoring pace to do so.”
With nine games left in the regular season, Cole said he would like to see Moon step out from the basket more and be more consistent during the last portion of the season.
“There’s just so many things with John because he is just an unlimited player,” Cole said. “I think that sometimes he is not as dominating as he could be though. He has the personality to hit the switch and cruise because the game comes so easily to him. There’s no better player in the country in DII than John Moon, though, when his lights are on and he is engaged.”
Last season, as a junior, Moon broke the Heartland Conference regular-season field goal record with 257, as he averaged 23.9 points, 9.1 rebounds and 2.5 blocked shots per game, while leading the league in all three categories. He was named to two All-American teams as an honorable mention selection on both the DII Conference Commissioners’ Association All-America and the DII Bulletin All-America list. With nine double-doubles and finishing second in the Heartland Conference in field-goal percentage at 58.8 percent, Moon was named to the watch list for the inaugural Bevo Francis Award.
During his sophomore season, Moon averaged 17.8 points, 7.7 rebounds and 2.0 blocked shots per game, while leading the Eagles in all three categories. He scored in the double-digits in all 26 games, while adding five double-doubles. Moon was named to the All-NCCAA Central Regional first-team, the All-Heartland second-team, the All-OklahomaSports.net NCAA DII first-team and was an honorable mention NCCAA All-America selection.
As a freshman for the Eagles in 2013-14, Moon played in all 27 games and started in 21, averaging 10.8 points, 4.9 rebounds and 1.6 blocked shots per game. He shot 57.7 percent from the field, while scoring in the double-digits in eight straight games.
With his 20-for-20 performance against Oklahoma Panhandle State University, Moon tied NCAA all-division records for single-game field-goal percentage and single-game consecutive field-goals. He received the “Top Performance By an Oklahoma Basketball Player Award” on OklahomaSports.net, was named the KOKH Player of the Week, the Heartland Defensive Player of the Year, the OklahomaSports.net Oklahoma DII Player of the Year and All-Heartland first-team. He also holds the single-game conference records for points, field-goal percentage and overall field-goals.
“During that game, I knew how many points I had because I could look up on the scoreboard, but other than that I really had no clue I was going 20-for-20,” Moon said.
Moon was also named to the National Association of Basketball Coaches’ All-District first-team, the HEROSports.com DII Hero of the Week twice, the OklahomaSports.net Oklahoma college player of the week twice and the Heartland Player of the Week four times — the most of any player in the league.
“He is very unassuming, low ego, low maintenance, but he is also a proud kid,” Cole said. “He works his rear off and I know he wants to win the [Bevo Francis] award because he is a competitor.”
Academically, Moon was one of only five players honored in all of Division II when he was selected to the CoSIDA Academic All-America team and was Oklahoma Christian’s first first-team Academic All-America selection in men’s basketball. His junior year, Moon was also named to the CoSIDA Academic All-District first team and the DII CCA All-South Central Region first-team list.
“The improvement John has made from freshmen to senior year is amazing,” teammate Luis Lopez said. “His work ethic is so consistent and that directly translates to how he plays in games. John has turned into a more vocal leader these last two years and is not afraid to speak his mind. He will go down as one of the best players of all time at OC, and deservingly so. He is the true definition of a student-athlete and I respect how hard he works on and off the court.”
Statistics provided by the Oklahoma Christian University Sports Information office.