Guard Aanen Moody leading No.4-ranked Dickinson High boys basketball with historic scoring attack
No two jump shots are identical, so the only constant part of Aanen Moody's game is his free throws: deep breath, two dribbles and a fluid shooting motion.
No two jump shots are identical, so the only constant part of Aanen Moody’s game is his free throws: deep breath, two dribbles and a fluid shooting motion.
The Dickinson High junior guard has a simple routine at the foul line, but Moody said that’s by design.
“When you pause, it gives you time to think about the shot,” he said, “and when you shoot, you don’t want to think about it. You can’t think about the last play or the next play. You have to be in the moment.”
Moody’s pattern at the line takes no more than 5 seconds. When he is presented with the notion that he has 10 seconds to take his time, he scoffs.
“Yeah, I know, but we also have 35 to shoot it on offense,” he said, “but if I get an open shot, I’m shooting it.”
And so far this season, Moody has been racking up points at an unprecedented rate, and no team has been able to thoroughly contain him.
Moody’s running total of 496 points this year accounts for 43.5 percent of the No. 4-ranked Midgets’ (10-5, 8-4 West Region) total as a team.
So prolific of a scorer is Moody - he’s averaging a Class A-leading 33 points per game heading into a 7:30 p.m. matchup tonight against Bismarck Legacy at DHS gymnasium - that he even has Dan Glasser, his own head coach, devising ways to stop him.
“I would have a triangle (zone), and I would put two guys on him,” Glasser said. “Tell those two guys that he doesn’t touch the ball. What that’s going to do is end up giving other guys wide-open shots. That’s the choice (opponents) have to make.”
Nobody has yet elected to shadow Moody with two defenders, but Glasser thinks it’s coming.
Glasser also said he thinks it might not do any good.
“Just the way that Aanen mentally attacks the game is something I’ve never seen before,” he said. “There’s a lot of kids that have his athleticism … what he has, physically. It’s the mental part that no one’s going to stop him. He won’t let himself be slowed down.”
In kindergarten, Moody was challenged by his father, Dave, with shooting free throws 100 at a time. Aanen would report back with his progress, and his skills grew from there.
By the first grade, Moody was playing in organized basketball with fourth-graders. As a seventh-grader, he was a member of the North Dakota Phenom AAU team’s ninth-grade squad.
Moody’s competition for the unofficial title of best scorer in the state - Minot’s KyJuan Johnson, Williston’s DeSean Eikens and Bismarck Century’s Dalton Feeney, to name three - are among his Phenom teammates.
As opponents, though, Moody is confident he’s the best of the bunch.
“Just the way I was raised is that anybody you’re competing against, you should never allow yourself to think that they’re better than you,” he said. “Especially when you know you’ve worked harder than them. In my case, I’m confident I’ve worked harder than anybody else in the state.”
If true, Moody’s coaches and teammates are seeing the fruits of his labor.
Moody is flirting with the 50-40-90 Club, shooting 49 percent from the field overall, 36 percent on 3-pointers and 88 percent from the foul line.
He’s been held under 20 points just once this season.
“If you sag off him at all, he’s just going to go right by you and take it to the hoop,” Dickinson senior forward Wyatt Kainz said. “And if he doesn’t do that, he’ll hit a 3 in your face. Either way, you can’t stop it.”
Moody’s efficiency makes him dangerous at all times but more so when the team desperately needs a bucket.
But that’s a role Moody embraces.
“It’s what I live for. It’s what every kid dreams of,” he said. “Being in that moment, it’s what I work for.”
Method to the madness
Dickinson’s offense involves Moody running in long, looping circles, almost as if tracing the invisible borders of puzzle pieces.
“The complexity of (the offense) is I can bring up the ball or come off a screen,” Moody said, “and either way, it’s going to be a motion where I can get a shot.”
Moody is also averaging five rebounds, three assists and three steals per game.
“He’s a playmaker, and he’s getting open shots for everybody on the team,” Kainz said. “It’s crazy fun to play with him. You never know what he’s going to do. He’s a dynamic player that you never know what’s going to happen and when.”
Moody averaged 15.6 points per game as a sophomore, but he attributes his improved overall play to his work last summer when he added on 10 pounds of muscle and worked almost exclusively on ball-handling.
“That helps in so many more aspects of the game,” he said. “Being able to be mobile on the court and get to the right spot. If you can’t move, you can’t score. The basic fundamental of basketball is to dribble and create. That’s my job on the team is to create.”
In the span of a week in late January, Moody scored the second-most points in a single game in North Dakota Class A boys basketball history (55 against Turtle Mountain) and then topped it (56 against Minot), giving him the second- and third-highest marks. In his next game Monday in Watford City, Moody’s 44 points helped him eclipse 1,000 for his career.
Natural progression could see him surpass Joe Hanstad’s (2007-11) school record of 1,576 points.
“With his love for the game, and the hours he puts into it, he’s going to come back next year as a better shooter, and that’s scary to say,” Glasser said. “He’ll go play AAU ball and go to all the camps and do everything he can to make himself better. He’s not going to short-change himself. ... I think there are a lot of records that are going to have his name behind them.”
Moody said he’s aware of the work he still must put in.
“How much better I get depends on how much harder I work than last year,” he said. “If I keep doing the same stuff, I’m just going to get better at doing the same stuff. I need to work harder.”
It can be a frightening proposition for opposing coaches that have to draw up a means to defend him.
“To be honest, I don’t know if there is a good way to defend him,” Dickinson junior guard Cam Jorda said. “You just have to try to tone it down and try to stop the bleeding as much as you can. Pretty much just face-guard him and hope for the best. Pretty much all you can do.”