By BRANDON SPECK
BENTON, KEN. – Moses Kingsley was a rumor that came true at New Albany. A near 7-foot exchange student from Nigeria, he arrived in Union County and despite a limited basketball background, his size had him on the radar of college coaches.
A soccer player by trade – he played that for the Bulldogs too – Kingsley’s talent was evident, especially on the defensive side. His first season as a sophomore, he helped the Bulldogs to the Class 4A state semifinals with 3.2 blocks, 6.3 rebounds and 7.6 points per game.
As a junior, Kingsley had a team-high 12.4 points per game and averaged 10.5 rebounds and 7 blocks, second in the state and ninth in the country in blocks and was a two-time Journal all-area selection.
Then he moved. In August, the 6-foot-10, 220-pound center transferred to Huntington (W Va.) Prep, a Top 5 national team.
Kinglsey has since signed with Arkansas on Nov. 15. He knew he had an opportunity to play Division I basketball and when the opportunity came to better prepare him for that future, he took it.
“It was hard but sometimes you’ve got to make decisions to go forward in life, so I decided to do it,” Kinglsey said after a win against Briarcrest (Memphis) Saturday night in the Marshall County Hoops Fest. “I miss almost everything about New Albany, my friends, classmates, my family I lived with there, my coaches, my teammates, all of them.”
Kingsley and the Express improved to 7-0 over the weekend in the Benton, Ken. event. He had two points and two rebounds in the Express’ 74-40 win over Briarcrest. He played only 12 minutes and had three blocked shots.
Friday night, he made 9 of 10 for 19 points and had five blocks and five boards.
Kinglsey’s team features the world’s to-ranked prospect Andrew Wiggins, as well as a Tennessee commit and three Kentucky targets.
“I want to improve on my back-to-the-basket game, on my offense in general,” Kingsley said. “It’s been great. Every day at practice I’m getting better, playing games, playing against the top players in the country. It’s all about getting better.”
Huntington coach Rob Fulford was drawn to Kingsley’s defensive abilities, shot-blocking and lane defense high on the list. He said Kingsley sees more success in up-tempo games. He struggled guarding Briarcrest big man Austin Nichols in the halfcourt Saturday night.
“Moses is going to be a contributor for anybody’s teams. He’s such a force on the defensive end of the floor and his offensive game has steadily improved,” New Albany coach Brad Gray said.
Fulford says his struggles are a product of a late bloomer, that screening and communication is made more difficult for a player still learning English. Adding to the setbacks, Kingsley went home to Africa just before the start of school and contracted malaria. He was in ICU for four days.
“He hasn’t been playing long. The feel of the game has got to come. When the game is up-tempo, he doesn’t have to think as much. He can just play,” Fulford said. “You’re never going to have to tell him to play hard.”