Only a sophomore, point guard Thierry Moliere has sprung onto the scene in a big way for the Jesuit Tigers this season.
In an upset win against rival Tampa Catholic on Jan. 8, Moliere did more than just pump up the crowd there to support Jesuit, he brought the gym to a frenzy.
Adding a career-high 14 points along with five rebounds and four assists, Moliere did what any young teenage basketball player dreams of doing, he put down a monstrous two-handed slam with just over 40 seconds left as Jesuit took a 61-51 advantage.
The Tigers wound up winning 63-51 which ended a 16-game winning streak for TC and the rest was history as Moliere celebrated with his team. He later said how exhilarating the finish was. It sure was a big win over a Crusaders group that features two Division-I recruits in senior point guard Thomas Dziagwa (Oklahoma State) and top recruit, junior forward Kevin Knox.
Moliere says that the win over Tampa Catholic served as a “real confident booster” for him. He certainly lived in the moment when I talked to him in the locker room after and was very humble about his big moment.
“The things I can take away from that game is that you must play every game like it’s your last and give it everything you got,” Moliere said.
With a 20-5 overall record and a 6-2 showing in district play, the Tigers are onto the Class 5A Region-9 District semifinals which start Wednesday night against Jefferson. The winner faces either Robinson or Spoto in the district final on Friday on Jesuit’s home floor.
Heading into the playoffs, Moliere’s focus is simple; to get better as a team.
“If each individual gets better the team will get better. So we push each other mentally and physically to get better every day.”
Under 29th-year head coach Neal Goldman, who has led the Tigers to five straight district titles and a state championship in 2012-13 with a 31-1 record, the sky is the limit for Moliere and company.
The talented Moliere is learning on the fly as he matures in his second season with each and every game. He says he’s learned that you can never take a play off and that you can’t stop working.
In terms of playing for Goldman and the rest of the Jesuit staff and players, he says he loves his teammates and that team has a real brotherhood.
“It’s great. We play hard and we all get along off the court really well.”
Despite losing three of its final four games of the regular season, including a 76-61 home loss to Tampa Catholic in the last meetings, confidence isn’t an issue for Moliere and his group.
“I’ve been confident in what I can do on the court since the start of eighth grade. My confidence level goes up every day especially with the all the trust the coaches have on me.”
Moliere says his family has been his biggest influence in his life since they’ve always believed in him and push him to become better.
Having the makeup of a self-motivated and competitive guy on and off the court gives him plenty of determination moving forward and rightfully so.
“I want to be the best and I know to you have to work hard to be the best. My parents also push me to do well and work hard at everything I try.”
As a point guard, Moliere watches a lot of players at his position. San Antonio Spurs’ Tony Parker is the player that he says he tries to mimic his game after.
“[Tony] Parker is a pass first point guard who can score also whenever he wants. I’ve been working on my jump shot a lot, getting attempts up.”
With his sophomore season entering the most pressure filled part, the playoffs, Moliere has big goals set for himself right now and beyond.
“I want to be one of the best player around the Tampa Bay Area and to do that I have to be in the gym every day getting better.”
Moliere is well on his way to being one of the best in Tampa Bay. He’s young, scrappy, self-motivated and his basketball IQ is through the roof. Now, he’s ready to put it all together as his role expands.
Jake Perper is the founder of Prep Sports Scouting. Make sure to follow along for all the updates on Twitter: @JakePerper.
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