CHICAGO | Life is good for E'Twaun Moore, who feels like he's hit the lottery everytime he slips into his No. 55 Orlando Magic jersey.
In his third season, Moore is an integral part of a young but promising Magic team that has eight players in their first or second year, an NBA high.
The future is brighter than a heat lamp.
Many of Orlando's games are like a mini-homecoming for the E.C. Central grad, who still considers himself a region guy.
Minnesota Timberwolves small forward Robbie Hummel of Valparaiso was a teammate of Moore's at Purdue.
Carolina Panthers' rookie defensive lineman Kawann Short is also an E.C. Central grad. When the Magic played at Charlotte Dec. 11, Short attended the game and Moore treated him to a 10-point, 5-rebound performance topped by 5-of-9 shooting.
When Orlando plays the San Antonio Spurs, Moore will exchange pleasantries with coach Gregg Popovich, a 1966 Merrillville grad for whom Moore worked out before the 2011 draft.
Life is a blast for the 6-foot-4, 190-pound Moore, albeit Orlando's 7-17 record entering Monday's game with the Bulls.
"E'Twaun has been great. His role has carried over from last year. He's a versatile defender and has made big shots for us when we give him the ball," coach Jacque Vaughn said. "He gives us a little bit of everything."
Orlando lost to Minnesota in overtime, 120-115, on Oct. 30. Moore had 10 points, Hummel was a DNP, coach's decision. They meet again April 5 in the Land of Disney.
"It's a lot of fun, especially when you're seeing familiar faces," Moore said of the 82-game grind. "Any time we're in the same city or about to play, Rob and I call each other before and try to hang out.
"There's always a lot of old laughs from school, from playing basketball, and how we're enjoying ourselves so far."
Hummel averaged 3.6 ppg. as of Monday, his two knee surgeries at Purdue a thing of the past. Moore has been as healthy as a Marine and averaged 6.3 ppg. prior to Monday's tip.
"It definitely hasn't been easy for Rob. He's worked hard to be where he's at and deserves it. I'm definitely proud of him," Moore said.
Short, a big teddy bear in high school, had to shed weight and gain strength at Purdue. Moore is equally proud of the Panthers' second-round draft pick.
"A playoff team and he's contributing," Moore noted. "I'm not surprised. I always thought he'd do well. I knew he had a lot of potential.
"I told him almost every other day in college: 'Keep with it, stay with it, and do it.'"
Moore led E.C. Central to a state championship, was an Indiana All-Star and teamed with Hummel to rewrite the recordbook at Purdue.
But at Orlando, Moore is a reserve whose ego was not bent out of shape, fortunately.
"I know my role is to come off the bench and provide a spark," Moore said. "For me, it wasn't a tough transition. The game's the same. When I get on the court, I do the same thing, just like I was starting."
In the near future, Moore could have another homecoming when he faces slick-shooting guard Hyron Edwards, a junior at ECC.
"That would definitely be cool," Moore said. "During the summer, I'm in the gym with him, working out, giving him pointers."
Like what, for example?
"I just tell him to have fun, work hard, play hard and leave everything on the court," Moore said.
Spoken like a true region gym rat.
"That's how we play," Moore said, smiling.