Juan Wiley and Derek Moore have been wreaking havoc in the Peach Belt Athletic Conference this year.
USC Aiken's dynamic duo, both selected as preseason honorable mention All-Americans, have become the premier frontcourt in the Peach Belt, if not all of Division II. The 6-foot-6 forward Wiley, from Jacksonville, Fla., leads the conference with 10.4 rebounds a game and is third in the PBAC in scoring (20.2 points a game) and steals (46). Also, through 16 games he has a PBAC-leading nine double-doubles and has scored in double figures in every game.
The 6-10 center Moore, from Sydney, Australia, leads Division II in blocked shots with 77 (5.5 a game). Also, he is second in the PBAC with 9.6 rebounds a game, second on the team in scoring (18 points a game) and has two triple doubles on the season.
But early in the first half of the Pacers' game against Kennesaw State on Jan. 9, the inevitable happened. Moore suffered an injured ankle which now has his season in jeopardy. He has missed the past three games with torn ligaments in his ankle and will wear a cast on it until the first week of February. Moore had been on his way to breaking the Division II record for blocks in a career, needing only 32 more blocks to become the leader.
"I can't answer that. I don't know," Roberts said about Moore playing the rest of the season. "He'll have it put in a cast and we'll go from there."
Freshman Adam Waskavitz, who is second on the team behind Moore in blocked shots with six, will fill in at center.
Without Moore, the inside scoring burden now falls on Wiley. And while his play already has been tremendous, Wiley still believes in perfection.
"I think I could do better," he said. "I've been in a lot of foul trouble and it's hurt the team. It's cost us two games."
For the Pacers to be successful, Wiley will have to stay out of foul trouble the rest of this season, especially with the loss of Moore.
"It's probably put a little more heat on (Wiley)," USC Aiken coach Mike Roberts said. "I'm pleased he's not trying to do more than he's capable of doing. He's continuing to play within himself."
Playing within himself has made the difference since his arrival last year from Santa Fe Community College.
"My assistant coach at my junior college was supposed to take a job here," Wiley said. "Unfortunately, we were supposed to come together, but he got a better job offer. It worked out."
And it worked out for Moore, too.
"Greg Gibson, a former player here, saw me play back home and he offered me a scholarship here," said Moore. "It seemed like a good thing, as far as an education and developing my basketball skills. It's paid off. I'm getting some looks back home because I've improved."
Those looks back home hopefully will translate into a professional basketball career in Australia in the fall.
Last season, Moore and Wiley, along with Kendrick Moore, elevated Pacers basketball to new heights. After a 7-5 start to the 1997-98 season, USC Aiken won nine of its next 10 en route to a 20-10 season and a trip to the Division II NCAA Tournament. On the strength of Wiley's 24 points and nine rebounds, the Pacers defeated Columbus State 82-76 in the first round. USC Aiken lost to Catawba College in the second round, 82-76.
Currently, the Pacers are 10-6 overall (4-2 PBAC) and tied for second in the PBAC North Division. But winning the PBAC Conference Tournament in late February would put them back into the Division II NCAA Tournament.
"We're still in the mix of winning the Peach Belt," Wiley said. "It's something we can achieve."
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