Athlete of the week: Dee Moreland is having a special freshman season for the Tigers

Published 9:15 am Saturday, February 11, 2023

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Dee Moreland is just a freshman, but he is already making a name for himself at Troup High. The rim-rattling high flying forward for the Tigers basketball team has been a revelation in his first year at the school.

“It’s a lot of pressure to start as a freshman,” Moreland said with a laugh. “To have a big role on the team and being just a freshman can be hard.”

Moreland has fit into Troup on and off the court seamlessly, with much credit due to head basketball coach Jairo Gay. Gay coached Moreland at Callaway Middle and when Gay got the job at Troup, Moreland knew that Troup was the place to be. 

“When coach Gay came here, I knew I wanted to follow him here,” Moreland said. “He always wants the best from and for me. I knew I wanted him to coach me for my entire high school career. He isn’t the type of coach that will sit there and scream at you, but he will make sure you’re doing it right.”

Moreland believes Gay is coaching him even harder at the high school level because he knows what it takes to push Moreland to be better. Moreland wants to play basketball after high school and believes Gay is the right coach to get him there.

The transition from middle to high school was not alway easy. Gone are the days Moreland was the biggest and tallest player on the court. Now, he regularly has to go up against guys who tower over him.

“You just have to find ways to keep going and get better,” Moreland said. “It is difficult at time because I was used to having smaller guys in middle school.”

In terms of sports, basketball is all Moreland knows. He tried football in middle school, but it did not bring him the same level of joy and comfort he gets on the basketball court. 

Moreland never expected this level of individual success in his first season, In fact, he did not think he would be a starter and thought he might be able to carve out a role as the sixth man on the team.

“At first, I was scared to shoot and make mistakes in the game,” Moreland said. “(Teammate) Deo’Vion Tucker told me at the first game to just play and be myself and be confident. After he told me that, I started playing like I’ve been playing.”

It did not take him long to impress coaches and teammates with his work ethic, and he endeared himself to the Tigers faithful by throwing down some sensational dunks this season.

“Dunks can give the team momentum, but it can also get the crowd in the game,” Moreland said. “I like throwing them down because it can change a game.”

Attacking the rim is a big part of his game, but it is not all he can do on the court. Moreland has worked to better his ball-handling abilities and his jump shooting ability. Never satisfied, Moreland continues to perfect his craft even during the middle of the season.

“I have the height and the length, so I’ve been working to make myself more like a guard,” Moreland said. “I’m working to add more guard moves and get better on offense.”

Moreland has enjoyed his individual success this season but longs for the team to reach new heights. His goal is to win playoff games and make a deep playoff run, not stuffing the stat sheet full of empty calorie stats.

“I just want to help the team get to the next spot,” Moreland said. “This season isn’t over yet, and we still have a chance to make the playoffs.”