Well-traveled Moser gets his shot in summer league

Well-traveled Moser gets his shot in summer league
July 5, 2014, 10:30 am
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ORLANDO, Fla. — The draft came and went without Mike Moser's name being called.

This is not the path Moser, one of the best players in the nation just a couple of years ago, would have envisioned for himself.

Still, when you look at the journey that he has taken, unexpected changes to the script has indeed been a significant part of his basketball narrative.

After committing to Arizona coming out of high school, Moser changed his mind and attended UCLA after Arizona patriarch Lute Olson unexpectedly retired. A year later, Moser didn't like his limited role with the Bruins, so he transferred to UNLV, where he would go on to earn honorable mention All-America honors as a sophomore.

However, things went south for Moser during his redshirt junior year due to a lingering elbow injury and the emergence of future No. 1 overall pick Anthony Bennett. Moser would graduate in four years, but still had one year of eligibility left. Rather than finish it off with the Runnin' Rebels, the Portland, Ore., native decided to exhaust his final year of eligibility closer to home as a member of the Oregon Ducks.

Indeed it has been a winding odyssey for the 23-year-old, who now finds himself once again searching for that perfect fit as he begins his pro career as a member of the Celtics' summer league team.

Their first game was Saturday morning against the Miami Heat. Moser scored 17 points on 6-for-11 shooting, 3-for-6 on 3s, in a 85-77 victory over the Heat in his pro debut. 

Moser understands what's at stake this week.

"In a situation like this, especially summer league, you have to take advantage of every chance you get to be seen and be on the court and do what you do."

One of the reasons Moser was such a highly regarded prospect coming out of Grant High School in Portland, was his versatility.

That was among the reasons why the first team to reach out to him after the draft was the Celtics.

When the Celtics came calling, Moser admits he was surprised.

He had worked out for 15 teams leading up to the draft, and the Celtics were not one of them.

"They came at me quick and really hard," Moser said. "They were really on me. I was definitely intrigued by that."

Moser had been a player on the Celtics' radar for a number of years. So when the draft came and went with him still available, there was no hesitation on their part in reaching out to him with an invite to summer league.

Austin Ainge, the Celtics director of player personnel, said Moser was an attractive target for a number of reasons.

"Mike's combination of 3-point shooting and rebounding is unique," Ainge told CSNNE.com. "Not too many guys that are stretch 4s (power forwards), also rebound at a high rate."

While at Oregon, Moser led the team in rebounding with 7.7 per game, along with finishing second in scoring (13.2). In addition, he shot a solid 37.8 percent on 3s.

However, Moser's frame (6-foot-8, 210) is what scared teams off from selecting him in last month's NBA draft.

"Mike's a little undersized for the position," Ainge admitted. "If he were a little taller or a little stronger, he'd have the prototypical power forward size for the NBA."

Still, Moser knows his play will go far in either dispelling the beliefs about his game, or validating the concerns teams have expressed.

And as far as an opportunity to play this summer, all indications are that Moser will have a decent shot at showcasing his talents for Boston.

That, he said, was a major factor in his decision to be part of the Celtics' summer league team.

"That's what it's all about," Moser said. "Trying to find a good fit and a good opportunity where you can come in and play and be part of something really special."

And if there's anyone who knows a thing or two about the search to find that elusive ideal fit, it is Moser.

Every change in his basketball life brought about its own set of challenges.

"It was difficult. But I've done it so many times now," Moser said, chuckling, " I'm used to it."