When investigating a player like UTEP transfer Arnett Moultrie, who reportedly has drawn interest from Rick Barnes and the Texas basketball program, there's often no better place to turn than the fans who follow the team. Fortunately, SBN is a great place to find not only fans, but extremely articulate fans.
Adrian Macias is the proprietor over at the always-thoughtful Miner Rush and was kind enough to take some time out of his busy schedule to provide a valuable perspective on Moultrie's relationship with Tim Floyd, his work ethic as a player, and other insights. His thoughts after the jump...
Adrian Macias: I've only heard substantively that Moultrie and Tim Floyd didn't see eye to eye on Arnett's decision to test the NBA waters. When Floyd was hired, the first thing he did was conduct one-on-one interviews with every member of the team. I've heard that when Arnett told Floyd that he wanted to test the waters, Floyd told him that he wasn't ready, in his eyes, to declare and promised him that he would work with him to better prepare him after next season. When Arnett declared anyway, I'm told that Floyd wasn't pleased. Almost immediately after, Floyd signed Rashanti Harris, a 6'9 power forward who could be eligible next season and Michael Haynes, another forward prospect who will be eligible next year. From my point of view, it seemed obvious that Floyd was recruiting knowing that Moultrie wouldn't rejoin the team.
GoBR: Did he have any reported problems with the previous coach, Barbee?
AM: Not at all. In fact it was probably quite the opposite. Tony Barbee's strongest recruiting ground is Memphis, where Moultrie is from. When he came to UTEP, he immediately used his strong bonds with the local players there to bring the best Memphis talent to El Paso. Coach Barbee always had a strong bond with the Memphis players.
Overall, would you say that he has a consistently good attitude?
AM: As an observer, I would say absolutely. After his impressive showing in last summer's FIBA Championships with Team USA, Moultrie was expected to have a breakout season. When Derrick [Caracter] became eligible, it was obvious that his strong inside game would cause Arnett to move back outside to the wing. Arnett was never the focus of the offense and struggled to become a consistent scorer. It wasn't because he didn't have the talent to score, he does, the offense just didn't involve him nearly as much as it probably should have. He never appeared to complain about his diminished role. Rather he worked hard, started every game, and filled the stat sheet in other ways. He was really the "glue guy" for the Miners last year. Without him, there's no way UTEP makes the NCAA tournament. He's a hard worker who wants to win. His problem at UTEP was always about him not fitting the dribble drive weave, not about his ability or attitude.
GoBR: One of the major complaints that I have seen against him is that he wasn't posting up as much with Caracter on the team. Do you think that was a decision by the coaching staff or do you think they wanted him on the block more?
AM: It was clearly a decision of the coaching staff. Caracter was really, really good. I'm not sure if people who couldn't see him play understand how good a scorer he can be. He had incredible offensive footwork and was a polished low post player. Arnett likes to shoot from the outside and has good, not great, ball handling skills. Had UTEP not signed Caracter, I'm sure Tony Barbee would have used Arnett in the post more and helped him develop that part of his game. But, with there really being no opportunity to play him there, Barbee used him on the wing. He was too good not to have on the court.
GoBR: With increased strength, do you think that he could improve his post presence?
AM: Absolutely. Reports about his athletic ability have not been exaggerated. He can jump out of the gym and has a nice shot from 15-17 feet. I think, with the right strength and conditioning coach, he could easily become a good college post player. The skill is there, he just needs the right coach to push him in that direction. Personally, I think that's what he should do if he really does want to play in the NBA.
GoBR: As for his jumpshot, does he have consistent enough mechanics to succeed with a perimeter-oriented game?
AM: He's not a great three-point shooter. Texas fans might also be terrified of his less than stellar free throw shooting, as I know that was one of the Horn's major problem areas last year. He likes to play outside, but I haven't seen enough consistency in his perimeter shooting to say that he should stay outside.
Since the last update two weeks ago that Texas and Kentucky were leading for Moultrie, the interwebs have mostly gone silent as Moultrie sets up visits and seeks approval to visit schools like Memphis and Mississippi State. It appears that he will not be able to enroll for the first summer session, which would have been a potential boon if he ends up at Texas because of the opportunity to play pick-up games with the likes of TJ Ford, Kevin Durant, Lamarcus Aldridge, and DJ Augustin, among others, though it matters less for a player who will have to sit out a transfer season anyway.
Without more information, it's difficult to handicap the odds of Moultrie landing at Texas -- the need is certainly there, particularly with Marcus Thornton picking the homestate Georgia Bulldogs over the Longhorns, and the proven ability of Todd Wright as one of the foremost S&C coaches in the business should appeal to a player seeking to gain strength to play in the NBA. However, if Moultrie decides that he wants to play at a school closer to home, Kentucky, Memphis and Mississippi State clearly have an advantage, with Mississippi State and Memphis possibly holding the edge if UTEP finally clears Moultrie to transfer there, which had not happened as of the last update.
Texas appears to be done recruiting in 2010 and although there are some other bigs on the radar for 2011, Moultrie could provide the Longhorns with a proven commodity, while still having the upside of a younger player -- a fantastic combination for the up-tempo offense Rick Barnes will surely employ in 2011-12.