JOHN WILBERT: Where is Moses Kingsley? Look on the football field

By John Wilbert/NEMS Daily Journal

NEW ALBANY – His best and favorite sport happens to be basketball.
But that doesn’t hold Moses Kingsley back from participating in other sports. Even if some big name college basketball programs are showing interest in the 6-foot-9 sophomore center, a native of Nigeria who happens to be in the States on a F-1 student visa.
“I told him that Kansas coach Bill Self called me about him,” said New Albany High basketball coach Brad Gray, “and he just said, ‘OK.’
“He watches the (college) game, but he just doesn’t understand the process of playing high school basketball to get an opportunity to play in college. He just wants the high school experience.”
And a major part of the high school experience in the U.S. is football. And that is why the tall and lanky Nigerian has been working out with the football team this spring, says his basketball coach.
“We’re thrilled to death to have him,” said New Albany High football coach Ron Price. “We hope he might play wide receiver for us, with his height and his ability to jump. He’ll be a nice target to throw the ball up to.
“There’s no guarantee he’s even going to play football. But he’s interested in doing so and we’re very interested in him. We’ll give him a chance.”
Even if he’s given the opportunity to play on the gridiron, the question then becomes if he can handle the wear and tear on his body that football causes. And Kingsley doesn’t only play on the basketball team.
He also plays soccer and has recently tried doing the high jump for his school’s track and field team. Not to mention, he’s playing AAU basketball this spring for a team out of Little Rock, Ark.
“He’s got a groin injury that’s been hurting him a little bit,” Price said on the phone Monday. “It’s probably because he’s been so active. He may just need some time to heal.”
So active that his basketball coach had a tough time getting him to do a phone interview. So active that one of the New Albany High track and field coaches hadn’t seen him lately on the track.
With basketball likely being his ticket to a free college education – Georgetown and Ole Miss are two other schools that have expressed interest in Kingsley – it may be best for the Nigerian student to simply be a spectator rather than a participant when it comes to football. Any significant injury could cost him an athletic scholarship.
“His body may not be accustomed to it,” Gray said of the football workouts that may have caused some pain in the 205-pound body of a teenager who is practically 6-10.
‘First-class kid’
“We’re doing some of our offseason drills one day when he came down to the football field,” Price said about Kingsley’s sudden interest in football. “He asked me if he could jump in and do the drills with us.
“He came down four or five times. Of course basketball is his No. 1 love.”
There’s no doubt that the New Albany High football team would love to have him when they begin their first day of spring practice on April 25.
“He’s jumping in head first and I’m hoping to just get him out there for spring football,” Price said. “If we can get him out for spring football, I think we’ll be successful in getting him to play for the next two years. I just hope things go well for him.”
Yes, all of these coaches want Kingsley on their team because of his tremendous athletic ability. But it’s more so his attitude and character that make these coaches willing to go out of their way to accommodate him.
“Just the way he’s been brought up is to respect authority,” Price said of the New Albany sophomore. “He respects authority.
“He’s an asset in the classroom. He’s been known to get on other students if they’ve been disrespectful. If he sees someone disrespecting a teacher or someone else, he’s not afraid to stand up to the person that’s being disrespectful.
“I can’t say it enough. He’s just a well-rounded individual who is very mature beyond his years.”
Price also can’t say enough about the possible contributions Kingsley can make on the football field. How about having the state’s tallest kicker?
“I haven’t thought about it,” said Price. “You know, he was great with his feet during the soccer season. … We’re excited about the possibility. Nothing’s for sure at this point.
“If we can get him out for spring football, just get him acclimated to the game, he’s the kind of kid who if he starts something, he’ll see it through. I know if he buys in, he’ll be an asset to our program.”
Contact John Wilbert at 678-1572 or john.wilbert@journalinc.com