Boys basketball: Moss bringing attention to St. Albans
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- St. Albans High School freshman Thaddeus "Thad" Moss is anything but a typical athlete.
He is every bit of the 6-foot-2 and 210 pounds listed from last football season at Boone County (Ky.) High and, as the son of NFL star Randy Moss, will likely get all the attention he could want as a ninth-grader for the Red Dragons.
Boys basketball practice began around the state on Monday and the younger Moss and a dozen other varsity players gathered at Tex M. Williams Gymnasium to begin what is expected to be an interesting season for Coach Marshall Kiser and the Red Dragons.
Perhaps not since 1999 St. Albans All-American basketball star Brett Nelson will the school gather as much attention as it is expected this season, which begins Dec. 14 at Riverside.
Thad Moss moved last Tuesday back to St. Albans where he lived until he was "3 or 4 years old."
Moss' father starred in basketball and football at DuPont High School and twice was named state basketball player of the year, sharing it with Beckley's Anthony Scruggs as a junior and winning the award outright as a senior. He was a Heisman Trophy finalist at wide receiver at Marshall University before being taken 21st overall by the Minnesota Vikings in the 1998 NFL Draft.
"With his dad being the athlete that he is and playing in the NFL, of course he's a local athlete," Kiser said. "That's going to spur a lot of interest.
"Everybody's interested in Randy Moss and everybody's interested in his kids. I think we all are. That's just natural."
After stretching on Monday, St. Albans got right to work and had Thad in the mix.
His basketball experience extends only to AAU, however. Last summer he played for the Boone County Rebels, and, two years ago was with the Northern Kentucky Knights.
This past football season he was a tight end and defensive end for the high school Rebels, catching 12 passes for 157 yards and contributing 16 solo tackles and 16 assists on defense.
They finished 1-10 after losing to Pleasure Ridge Park in the first round of the playoffs.
"Being a tight end and defensive end made me work harder, but it was fun," the 14-year-old Moss said. "I've played tight end since I started football in third grade. It was tough getting the hang of defensive end because I only played it for about a year. I finally got into the flow of it and it's a fun position.
"It was also frustrating, because I'm so competitive and when we win one game and lose the rest, it's tough."
Next fall he'll join a St. Albans football team that finished just 2-8 in 2012.
This past weekend, he made an unofficial visit to Alabama to watch the Crimson Tide drop a 29-24 decision to Texas A&M. Alabama - coached by Fairmont native and three-time national championship Coach Nick Saban - is the first school Moss has visited.
"It was really crazy, their fan base is crazy," he said. "It was fun being there, seeing all the top recruits in the nation."
The maddening recruiting process is beginning, but he said "my dad gave me some hints and tips" about it.
As for basketball, he'll have an immediate opportunity to improve the Red Dragons, who finished 5-17 last season with one victory in their last 12 games.
Moss is expected to do that from the position of power forward, although he showed some touch and decisiveness from the perimeter on Monday.
"I've always been taller and bigger than everybody else," said Moss, although he admits he can only dunk "off and on."
He also will be playing with a torn labrum suffered in football, but doesn't plan to have that surgically repaired until after the season - which could spoil his AAU plans.
Moss, barely a teenager, is trying to find his way - even if he is growing accustomed to the attention he draws being the son of a potential future Pro Football Hall of Famer.
His sister Sydney, a freshman basketball player at the University of Florida, had sought to make a name for herself despite her famous father and achieved her goal.
He hopes to do the same.
"I'm looking forward to the challenge," he said. "I got used to (all the attention) a couple years ago, it's been like this since I was born. I'm looking forward to these next couple years to make a name for myself."
Kiser said Moss will need room to do so, even though he acknowledges there could be larger crowds at Tex M. Williams Gymnasium because of his team's new addition.
"It would be a tremendous amount of pressure on anyone to have a famous father who is an athlete, especially the area where he grew up," Kiser said. "Everybody is going to assume that Thaddeus will be like his father. Time will tell on that.
"Really, everyone just kind of needs to give him room to be Thaddeus.
"We're happy to have him. I'm real excited about being a part of his future and helping him develop from a basketball standpoint."
Contact Assistant Sports Editor Rich Stevens at firstname.lastname@example.org or 304-348-4837.