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CBSSports.com Senior Writer

Purdue's Moore an unknown, unless you're paying attention

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E'Twaun Moore has been the leading scorer three straight seasons on a team that has averaged 27 wins over that span, and yet some people who describe themselves as college basketball fans still mispronounce his name.

Do you know his face?

E'Twaun Moore can become the second Big Ten player to reach 2,000 points, 500 rebounds and 400 assists. (Getty Images)  
E'Twaun Moore can become the second Big Ten player to reach 2,000 points, 500 rebounds and 400 assists. (Getty Images)  
If I showed you his picture, would you recognize him? My guess is that you wouldn't unless you seriously follow a Big Ten program, because Moore is neither the most popular Purdue Boilermaker (that's Robbie Hummel) nor the school's best NBA prospect (that's JaJuan Johnson). Rather, he's merely one of the most consistent performers in the nation and among the most well-rounded players in conference history -- proof being how the 6-foot-4 guard is on pace to become just the second Big Ten student-athlete to ever score 2,000 points, grab 500 rebounds and record 400 assists in a career.

The first was Michigan State legend Steve Smith.

The second will be Moore, provided his averages don't dip.

"I thought he was going to be joining a club of 10 or something, but Steve Smith is the only guy to ever do it," said Purdue coach Matt Painter. "It just shows that E'Twaun has been very, very consistent."

Read me enough and you know I don't care much for players who post numbers on bad teams because, the way I figure, every team scores points, grabs rebounds and records assists, so even bad teams have guys with nice statistics. Drives me crazy when a 20-point scorer from a last-place team makes all-conference for no other reason than that he averaged 20 points. That's why I've long prided myself as someone who tries to routinely recognize and annually reward difference-makers on great teams as opposed to box-score heroes on bad ones.

And yet even I'm guilty of taking Moore for granted.

Moore is the only player named to one of the three CBSSports.com All-America teams last season who actually returned to school for this season, and yet I did not mention him a few months back when I suggested a list of preseason All-America candidates. I instead focused mostly on guards who used notable efforts to lead their teams deep into the NCAA tournament (Baylor's LaceDarius Dunn, Butler's Shelvin Mack, Duke's Nolan Smith and Kansas State's Jacob Pullen) while failing to realize that Moore almost certainly would've been in the same group had Hummel never torn his ACL last February at Minnesota.

Put another way, I made a mistake.

So once again, Moore was on the wrong end of a media slight.

"You definitely notice," said Moore, who averaged 16.8 points, 3.8 rebounds and 2.7 assists as a junior. "Who doesn't like being in newspapers and being in 'Star Watch' on ESPN games? Everybody loves attention, and everybody wants people to see them."

The issue for Moore in this regard is two-fold.

One problem is that he isn't the type whose game will obviously translate to the NBA, and, right or wrong, people tend to focus more on college basketball's elite prospects than they do college basketball's elite players. The other problem is that Moore entered Purdue with Hummel and Johnson, and that trio has developed the reputation of a three-man unit (like former Marquette stars Dominic James, Jerel McNeal and Wes Matthews) rather than that of three great individual prospects (like former Kentucky standouts John Wall, DeMarcus Cousins and Eric Bledsoe), which has them sharing a spotlight rather than each enjoying one as an individual.

"But we all have mutual respect for each other," Moore said. "So things like that don't ever really get in the way, and we don't ever talk about it."

Really?

"Well, sometimes we do joke about it," Moore acknowledged with a laugh. "We'll say, 'Oh, you were the Player of the Week.' So we mess around a little bit. Nothing serious. But we do joke around."

And they might get the last laugh, too.

Though there is an obvious disadvantage to sharing the spotlight with two other great players, the advantage is that you are, well, sharing the spotlight with two other great players. Point being that it's nice to play alongside two other great players when the goal is to win as many games as possible. And make no mistake, that is the goal at Purdue.

The Moore-Hummel-Johnson trio already has made three NCAA tournaments and two Sweet 16s, and they should be a preseason top five team. A Final Four isn't only a possibility, it's the standard by which Moore said this group ultimately will judge itself. So, yes, he notices that he doesn't get as much attention as the nation's other productive guards, but Moore doesn't care enough about that to stop focusing on the bigger and more important picture.

"He's been our leading scorer for three years, and he's a proud kid," Painter said. "It's just that when you have good players with you, you can't control the attention other guys get. But the good thing is that he's just trying to win a championship. So you don't hear anything from him."

But you could start to hear plenty about him.

Because when people win championships, the accolades follow.

And in that case, finally, the spotlight would become too large to avoid.


Gary Parrish is a senior college basketball columnist for CBSSports.com and frequent contributor to the CBS Sports Network. The Mississippi native also hosts the highest-rated sports talk radio show -- The Gary Parrish Show -- in the history of Memphis. He lives in that area with his wife, two children and a dog.
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