If there is one word to describe Aanen Moody's approach through the first year and a half of his collegiate basketball career, it might be refinement.
Relative to his legendary high school career though, some may ask how could he get any better.
A two-time North Dakota Gatorade Boys Basketball Player of the Year award winner, Moody ended his playing days at Dickinson High in 2017 as Class A's all-time scoring leader, earning Class A Senior Athlete of the Year honors and the North Dakota Mr. Basketball award.
From there, Moody took his talents to the University of North Dakota, where he redshirted his freshman season. The 6-foot-3 guard said his first year in Grand Forks was quite the change of pace. Just months removed from lighting up his opponents on a nightly basis, Moody could only watch the action from the sidelines, absorbing valuable lessons along the way.
"It was really humbling for me. I kind of got accustomed to the popularity and notoriety behind my name, and it was really humbling to get a year of no credibility while I was just working on my game behind the scenes," Moody remarked. "It gave me more of a pure work ethic and more true motivation, where I was building myself as a player for myself instead of for the acceptance of other people."
Practicing daily with Division I athletes as a redshirt, Moody credits the work during that time for producing the player he is now. Becoming a "product of his environment," Moody adjusted to the speed and athleticism of the next level, picking up qualities from his fellow teammates and translating it into his game.
Still, Moody has long known what brings to the table, it's just been a matter of adding to it.
"My bread and butter was never on my athletic ability," Moody said. "My game revolved around hard work and shooting ability, and right now those two things are making me flourish at this point. ... My work ethic is not only what I do outside of the lines and what I do in practices, but also on the defensive end. At this level, you can't play if you can't guard. That's something that I had to learn and pick up on quick."
Through 19 games off the bench with the Fighting Hawks, Moody is averaging 10 points through 22.4 minutes per game. He has attempted 131 3-pointers so far this season, topping the next-best distance shooter by 79 attempts. Meanwhile, he's only attempted 31 shots from inside the arc.
Moody leads the Summit League at 6.9 attempts per game from three-point territory and is making them at a 39 percent clip, good for 21st in the conference. As opposing coaches begin to scout and gameplan for him, the guard hopes to expand his game further and advance beyond a three-point specialist.
"I've been working a lot lately on my ability as a creator to counter the defense I might get," Moody said. "Right now, I'm more of a one- or two-dimensional player, but I'd like to add more flavor into my game so I can help my teammates more; instead of just shoot the ball, maybe set up shots for other people. That's something that I've talked to the coaches a little bit about and that I'm trying to prove in practice, so hopefully if I keep getting more successful with that, I'll get more opportunities in a game to showcase my ability."
Moody earned personal-bests of 21 points against Purdue Fort Wayne on Dec. 29, and again a week later during a road matchup at Denver. Three times this season, he has knocked down six 3-pointers in a game.
He's also had the opportunity to play against some of the top talent in the country on sacred basketball ground. On the floor for 16 minutes, Moody scored five points during a Nov. 29 date with No. 10-ranked Kentucky at the famed Rupp Arena. Three weeks later, Moody put up seven points and grabbed four rebounds in 13 minutes against No. 20 Marquette.
"I think in preparation for the game, that's something that you have to take in and it's an experience that you can waste, but when you get inside the lines and the clock starts, it's time to compete," Moody commented. "You can't waste an opportunity to compete on the court with those guys because you got a great chance to see how you stack up against players going to the NBA.
"A lot of guys on our team have aspirations of playing professional basketball, whether it's in the United States or overseas. So we got an opportunity that not a lot of teams get to see how we compare to those guys, and to be honest, there's not that much of a gap between the high-major and mid-major level of basketball. ... You can find solid mid-major players anywhere that have the same ability as high-major players, so that's why we were able to compete with Marquette and Kentucky for at least stretches of the games."