While Division I college basketball is a goal for many aspiring players, Terion Moss is quite happy living the Division III life in the western mountains of Maine.
The 2018 Mr. Basketball from Portland High School spent last season on scholarship at the University of Maine, but left school last spring after playing his freshman season with the Black Bears.
Moss enjoyed the experience in general, but not so much the regimented rigors of being a Division I student-athlete.
This winter, he has emerged as a dynamic force with the Division III University of Maine at Farmington.
“It’s a smaller community,” Moss said of the Farmington campus. “I liked it at Orono. I have nothing against there, I just feel like this place is better for me education-wise and basketball-wise.
“My [UMaine] roommate Stef [Ingo] and I are still real good friends and we talk every day. I had great friends and a great experience there, it just wasn’t the right fit for me basketball-wise.”
The 5-foot-10 sophomore guard, with his Division I skills, is poised to contend for North Atlantic Conference player of the year honors. The three-time NAC player of the week leads that league in scoring (19.9) and assists (4.3) average while ranking third in steals (2.0 per game) and free-throw percentage (.747) and fifth in field-goal percentage (.540).
Moss has fit in quickly with a senior-laden UMF team, in part because of the presence on the roster of older brother Amir, who is a senior guard.
“I like it a lot, especially to get to play with my brother,” he said. “I knew a bunch of these guys before from coming to watch Amir’s games, and he talked to me about it and asked if I was sure I wanted to do it. He said he’s had a good time and I would like it if I came here.”
What’s making things even more fun for the Moss brothers and the rest of the Beavers is the team’s strong play. UMF has won its last 11 games and is 15-3 overall, 7-0 in conference play, entering Friday night’s clash in Bangor against Husson (6-11, 4-3 NAC).
“We’ve been able to integrate Terion very easily just because of the type of player he is,” UMF senior forward Riley Robinson of Dixfield said.
“Even though he’s scoring a lot of points, he’s creating a lot of baskets for everybody else, too. He’s unselfish, just a team-first guy, and everybody on the team loves him, so it’s been real easy,” he added.
Moss is coming off a 31-point game last Saturday at Thomas College of Waterville, the team that knocked the top-seeded Beavers out of the conference tournament last year.
In that game Moss showed off the key ingredient others within the UMF program say separates him from other top players in the league.
“You don’t see his quickness in Division III, you really don’t,” Robinson said. “And his playmaking ability, sometimes he’ll just go on a quick little seven-point run by himself, and all you can do and watch and enjoy it.”
That happened at Thomas, where UMF trailed 51-40 at intermission before going on a 53-18 second-half blitz to win comfortably, 93-69.
“The guys recognize it,” longtime UMF coach Dick Meader said. “Down at Thomas in the first half he made a couple of threes and in one situation was sort of running out of space so he gave the ball to Riley Robinson and Riley gave it right back to him when he was open because he knew Terion was playing very well and needed an outlet just for a second.”
Moss scores most of his points either in transition or within the flow of the UMF offense, and there are no plays designed specifically to get him a shot — at least yet.
“Dick has a set for most every player, something this person can do well,” UMF assistant coach Jim Bessey said. “We’ve been talking about how we don’t have any plays yet for Terion, but we’re working on something.”
Opponents are accepting the challenge of testing themselves against a former Division I player. Moss averaged 5.4 points and 2.6 rebounds in 26.7 minutes per game last winter at UMaine while playing in 29 games with 15 starts.
“People talk to him a lot, but he’s done well,” Meader said.
Moss said his basketball experience at UMaine was beneficial, particularly in some mental aspects of the game.
“I think it just helped my basketball IQ, to be honest,” he said. “My mentality is always to put the team first and I think that’s helped me a lot to become the basketball player I am today.”