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E’Twaun Moore is gearing up for his annual basketball camp in East Chicago.

The 2007 E.C. Central graduate and New Orleans Pelicans guard will host a two-day clinic June 28 and 29. In addition to giving back to his community with his time and knowledge of the game, Moore has also awarded scholarships to four Class of 2019 graduates at his alma mater through the E’Twaun Moore Foundation.

Samantha Thompson and Nayeli Arredondo were both granted a $1,000 scholarship that is renewable for four years, while Kayla Green and Carrington Frank were each awarded a one-time $1,000 scholarship. Every applicant was required to write a short essay, have at least a 3.0 GPA and attend a four-year university or college in the fall. The winners must also maintain 2.8 GPA while in higher education to receive their funding.

Before Moore returns to the Region, Times sports reporter James Boyd had the chance to speak with the Purdue alumnus and eight-year NBA veteran about his loyalty to East Chicago, the Boilermakers’ NCAA Tournament run and the future of the Pelicans, which may include Duke phenom Zion Williamson.

Q: Why is it important to you to not only sponsor the camp but actually be there for the kids?

A: I just want to go back and try to inspire the kids from my area and share some of my experiences basketball-wise and off the court as well. I just want them to get a chance to be around someone that’s successful, someone that’s made it to the highest level of their occupation.

Q: Through your foundation, you awarded scholarships to four graduating seniors at E.C. Central. Why did you feel the need to help these students financially?

A: Me, my brother (Ezell Moore) and my sister (Ekeisha Herrera), we all graduated from college, and they both have their master’s degrees. So I understand how hard and difficult it is to have enough finances while going through school, especially those first couple of years.

Q: Purdue made it to the Elite Eight and was just one play away from a spot in the Final Four. Did you have a chance to watch that game against Virginia?

A: For sure, I definitely had a chance to watch the game. I was cheering for them the whole time. I was talking trash to my teammates and telling them that we were going to the Final Four and that we were the best team. It’s crazy because I really felt like we could have won it all. Virginia ended up winning, and they barely beat us. It was a very close game, and that’s a testament to how good Coach (Matt) Painter is.

Q: Consensus second-team All-American Carsen Edwards scored 42 points in that game and is projected by some as a late first-round pick in the 2019 NBA Draft. How much potential do you think he has at the next level?

A: I think his potential at the next level is high. It’s all about finding the right situation. Depending on where he goes, he may have a chance to light it up and score. But a lot of things are situational. He’s a good kid, and he plays hard. As long as he keeps that mindset, and with his ability, the sky is the limit for him.

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Q: You’re entering into the final year of your four-year contract with the Pelicans. After playing for the Boston Celtics, Orlando Magic and Chicago Bulls earlier in your career, what’s it been like to find some stability in New Orleans?

A: It’s been great finding that stability. It gives you a lot of confidence going forward. You don’t have to worry about contracts and all of that stuff. You get to just go play and free your mind and focus on basketball, and that’s definitely great to have. Before it was kind of like, “Where am I going to be? What’s going to happen?” It’s stressful, but it also reminds you that you’re playing for something every time you step out on the court.

A: What’s your mindset going into this offseason, especially considering that the 2019-20 season is a contract year for you?

Q: My mindset is simple: This has to be the best offseason I ever had. That’s my goal. I gotta get in the gym and work and continue to improve on the previous years. My mindset is to be the best when I’m lifting weights and training and in the gym playing. That’s pretty much it. That’s all you can worry about. Proper preparation prevents poor performance, so I put it all out there. If I grind and put the time in, the work will show.

Q: The Pelicans have the No. 1 pick in the 2019 NBA Draft, which basically means that Duke freshman Zion Williamson is headed to New Orleans. What did you think about his one year with the Blue Devils? And how would you like to have him as a teammate?

A: I think he’s going to be good in the NBA, especially with that explosiveness and that athletic ability. He also has a good IQ for the game from what I can tell by watching him this year. If we get him, that’ll be cool. Any time you can bring someone to the team that has superstar potential, it’s always fun. And from a publicity standpoint, we’ll have a lot of coverage and more games on (national) TV so that’s good for everyone playing on the team.

Q: Anthony Davis is a six-time All-Star and widely considered to be one of the best players in the NBA. It’s not clear if he will play for the Pelicans or another team next season. But from your perspective, how special of a player is he and do you want him to stay?

A: I don’t know if he wants to stay or leave or what’s going on with his situation, but I’d love for him to stay. He’s one of the best players in the league, so any time you have that type of talent you definitely want to keep it and don’t want to lose it. He’s very special, just the things he does on the court are amazing. Everybody doesn’t have that ability — to be that long and move like a guard and be able to make plays. Playing with him is definitely an honor. He makes the game so much easier by commanding double teams, and if you get beat to the basket he’s blocking everything.

Q: You always talk about still being that same kid from East Chicago and remaining loyal to your roots. After traveling the world and living out your dream, when you go back to E.C. Central and step in that gym, does the magnitude of your journey ever hit you?

A: Of course, and I think when I’m done (playing) it’ll really hit me. But that’s what motivates, too. Every time I come back to do the camp and do other things in the community, it definitely motivates me to keep going and keep striving forward in my career. Just to see where I come from and seeing how hard I had to work to get to where I am, that definitely motivates me every time I go back.

Q: This is the seventh time you’ve held a basketball camp in East Chicago. What’s been your most consistent message to the participants?

A: I always tell them, “Believe in yourself.” And try to get them to think like, “I can be greater than what I see or greater than what I am right now in this situation.” In my neighborhood, some of the kids aren’t fortunate enough to go on vacation and see different things and experience different lifestyles. So it’s just about letting them know that it’s a lot more out there in the world. There’s a lot of beautiful places and successful people, and it’s a lot of different ways for them to be successful.

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Lake County Sports Reporter

James Boyd is the Lake County prep sports reporter for The Times. He is a graduate of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and a proud native of Romeoville, Illinois. Before anything else, his main goal in life is to spread love and light.