Basketball finally brought JJ Moore all the way back home.
The 26-year-old forward is in his second season with the Long Island Nets, but his first playing pro ball this close to where he grew up in Brentwood, as the Nets played their first season in Brooklyn at Barclays Center.
"Just being here, just being around my friends growing up, having them come to the games and everything is good," said Moore. "Family comes and sees me. In college, when I was at Pittsburgh, not a lot of people were able to come and see me, but now that I'm local, everybody's here. I've got love out here, so it's good in a way."
Moore grew up about a half-hour from his new home arena and played at Brentwood HS through his junior year.
"There was always good competition growing up," he said. "Achraf (Yacoubou) went to LuHi, he went to Villanova after. Tobias (Harris), one of my closest friends, he went to Hills West and now he's with the Clippers right now. Marcus Stroman, the pitcher for the Blue Jays, he played at (Patchogue)-Medford, playing ball together, so a lot of people came out of Long Island."
But Moore opted for South Kent Prep for his final year of high school, on the way to playing three years at Pitt. He averaged a solid 18 minutes and 7.5 points per game over his sophomore and junior seasons in the final years of the rugged, super-sized Big East Conference, then transferred to Rutgers for his final year to get a little closer to home when his grandfather became ill. With the Scarlet Knights, Moore wrapped up his college career starting 30 of 33 games and averaging 11.2 points.
He headed down to Mexico for two seasons, and kept active in all the major New York City summer hot spots - Pro City, Gersh Park, Dyckman Park.
But even with his resume and experience - and having twice played against Long Island coach Ronald Nored in college - Moore got the Nets' attention by going to an open tryout that a friend talked him into attending with a hundred-plus players.
Cut after training camp, Moore got a second chance when an injury opened up a roster spot.
"As soon as they called me back, that was the opportunity I needed for me to shine," said Moore. "I did everything they needed me to do and even more. They ended up keeping me for the rest of the year."
Moore averaged 14.5 points and shot 49.6 percent in 46 games for the Nets during the 2016-17 season. That was good for eighth on the team, although only two of the seven players with higher scoring averages played more than 20 games with the team. He went on play in the 2017 NBA Summer League in Las Vegas for the Nets, with Long Island teammates Milton Doyle, Tajhere McCall, Kamari Murphy, Jeremy Senglin and Prince Ibeh, plus Brooklyn's Caris LeVert, Spencer Dinwiddie, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and Isaiah Whitehead.
Moore's role is smaller this season, his scoring average about half of last year's, but he remains one of the Nets' most reliable and popular players.
"He probably played more last year than he did this year," said Nored. "As disappointed as I'm sure he is at times, he hardly ever lets it show. But he can really score. He did that for us last year. I want to say he averaged 14 points a game last year, somewhere in there. But he can score the ball. He can make shots. Finish around the rim. He's versatile. I give him major credit, because he's had to go back and forth between positions all year, where he's had to be a small ball 4, or he's been a 3, a wing player.
"So he's gone back and forth all year, and each time we say go back and forth, he handles it with grace. There's no sad face. There's no arguing back. It's, whatever my job is, I'm going to do it. Because of that, he stays around. He's a pro."