HAMMOND | Teammates can either go their separate ways, or come together after traversing circuitous paths.
E'Twaun Moore and Kawann Short went their separate ways after helping lead E.C. Central to a Class 4A boys basketball title in 2007. Though they both ended up going to Purdue, Moore stuck with basketball while Short beefed up to focus on football.
Over the weekend, they hooked up again.
"I'm just so happy for him," said Moore, an Orlando Magic guard who was on hand to congratulate Short at an NFL draft party Friday night in East Chicago when the 300-pound defensive tackle was taken in the second round (44th overall pick) by the Carolina Panthers. "His whole life and his family's life changed on that day. "You'll never forget that moment when your name is finally called. It's a wonderful feeling."
Moore, originally a second-round pick of the Boston Celtics, took in a Gary Splash Independent Basketball Association game against the Indiana Diesel Saturday at the Hammond Civic Center while signing autographs for fans.
The Splash, owned and coached by former Hammond High star Batiste Haywood, have become a reservoir for former West Side Cougars teammates Corderro Bennett, DaShawn Wright and Horace Bond.
"DaShawn and I have been for the most part playing together for much of our careers," said Bennett, one half of the Splash's starting guard tandem with Wright. "We played together at West Side in 2003 before I moved to Arizona (Holbrook High School) and played college ball for Colorado Northwestern.
"But we've always been on the same AAU teams."
Batiste said Bennett is the team's top scorer, and has really come on as of late. Going into Saturday's game against the Diesel, the Splash were 7-3.
"For us, it's a question of having all our guys together," Batiste said.
Bennett played in Germany last year before joining the Splash.
"I'm just trying to stay focused and get some exposure," said Bennett, who helped the Splash take a 59-50 halftime lead in front of a crowd of nearly 300.
As for Moore, he's hoping to further establish himself in the NBA after seeing an increase in playing time with the Magic while starting 21 games.
"I thought the season could have been better," said Moore, who averaged 7.8 points and 2.7 assists per game for Orlando, which didn't make the playoffs. "I always knew I could start in the NBA. I always had the confidence in my abilities. It just comes down to being in the right situation."