SACRAMENTO – Motivation was never a question for Eric Moreland. (His hunger may rival a few third-world countries.) The Sacramento Kings rookie channels his fuel from a lack of recognition.
“I’ve always had motivation because I’ve always been a guy not talked about. It’s always been that way, and I’ve always continued to keep growing up,” Moreland told Sports Out West last weekend.
The 22-year-old was viewed as a mediocre prospect out of Hightower High School (Texas) but earned a scholarship with UTEP. When head coach Tony Barbee was shortly released, however, Moreland’s free ride was voided. The big joined Oregon State where in four years he became the school’s all-time leader in blocks (184) while averaging 8.6 rebounds per contest.
Still, a suspension in his final year amid concerns about his skills translating to the NBA dropped him from draft boards. The Kings added Moreland as a free agent, and he parlayed a breakout Summer League performance into a three-year deal.
But the contract gives him no guarantee to make the team, and the 6-foot-10, 220-pound forward must compete with fellow fours Carl Landry, Reggie Evans and Jason Thompson. Undrafted rookie David Wear (UCLA) is also seeking a power forward job, presenting a logjam that would intimidate even the bravest beavers (pun intended).
Moreland’s ticket to the roster will be rim protection, which the Kings are in desperate supply. The role player may need to show more on offense, where he’s strong at finishing with either hand but not much else.
“On offense, I really didn’t get to show a lot at Oregon State because my coach didn’t want that. That wasn’t my job at Summer League. I’m not going to say that I have strengths here when I didn’t do it. We’ll just have to see.”
If Moreland makes the team, he has his eyes set on swatting a few opponents.
“I want to get LeBron, and I want to get Blake (Griffin). I feel like I might get dunked on by DeAndre Jordan, I think he’s going to get me, but I really want Blake.”
Nothing is too challenging to Moreland. Whether his basketball career ends in 20 years or tomorrow, at least we know he made an effort.
Photo Credit: Mike Richman / Oregon Live