Sam Morris / Las Vegas Sun
Tuesday, May 7, 2013 | 3:55 p.m.
After thanking UNLV for changing his life, Mike Moser is prepared to say goodbye.
Moser will transfer to Oregon, the junior forward told the Sun Tuesday afternoon. The Portland, Ore., native was considering Oregon, Washington and Gonzaga. He called all three of those coaches to tell them the news.
“It’s the choice because it’s home,” Moser said. “That’s going to be awesome. I got to know coach (Dana) Altman pretty well in the past month or so.”
Moser said once he made it known he would seek a transfer, almost every school in the country reached out, including North Carolina, Indiana, Texas. Even UCLA, where he started his career as a freshman in 2009-10, contacted him. Moser had played for then-coach Ben Howland and although he knows a member of Steve Alford’s coaching staff he said felt better with schools in the northwest.
Moser led UNLV in points (14 per game) and rebounds (10.5) as a sophomore when he burst onto the national scene. After that year, which included first-team All-Mountain West honors, he nearly left for the NBA draft before deciding to return for what he and the coaching staff deemed his “senior” season.
Things didn’t turn out as planned as Moser took on a more secondary role and then suffered a dislocated elbow at Cal on Dec. 9. There were flashes after that, including 20 first-half points at UNR, but he was never quite the same.
He finished the season averaging 7.1 points and 6.1 rebounds in 21.3 minutes per game. He appeared in 28 of the 35 games, making 17 starts.
“I feel like it’s complicated, to be honest,” Moser said on why he decided to leave. “Part of it I’d say was the way the year ended for me personally. Overall it was more trying to make a change for myself and get back close to home.”
Moser transferred in for Lon Kruger but played only for Dave Rice, who said he wishes Moser well at his next stop.
"We appreciate all that Mike has done for our program," Rice said. "He has worked hard academically and is scheduled to graduate this summer. We wish him all the best."
The Rebels already have his scholarship filled with five newcomers replacing the three seniors, Moser and NBA-bound Anthony Bennett, who we learned earlier Tuesday is about to undergo rotator cuff surgery.
Even though he’s leaving early, Moser said he’s loved his time in Las Vegas. He’s still here, too, finishing up classes and working out at the Mendenhall Center, Impact Academy and anywhere else he can find a game.
“UNLV changed my life,” Moser said. “I’m so appreciative of coach (Dave) Rice and the community. From Day One this place felt like home as much as it can. I’ve got to thank the fans and him for that.”
Moser won't have to sit out because of an NCAA rule that allows players to transfer to another program and play immediately as long as they enroll in a grad program not offered at their first institution. Moser is done on campus in May and then has one online class to finish before he can officially become a Duck.
The pull to stay in Oregon wasn’t nearly as strong coming out of high school in part, Moser said, because he didn’t have as much of an attachment with Ernie Kent, the Ducks’ coach from 1997-2010.
Altman went to Oregon after a long and successful run at Creighton. In three years he’s had multiple postseason victories in first the CBI, then the NIT and last year the Ducks made the Sweet Sixteen before losing to eventual national champion Louisville. Earlier in the year the Ducks came to the Thomas & Mack Center and beat the Rebels by four.
Oregon had three senior forwards on last year’s roster, leaving a void Moser will help fill as a stretch four.
“There’s a role for me to come in and play big minutes, be a focal point,” Moser said. “I’m looking forward to doing that.”
The Ducks also added one prep and one junior college forward in their incoming class. Moser will be the fourth player on the roster with ties to Las Vegas. Bishop Gorman grad Johnathan Loyd will be a senior while fellow Gael Ben Carter and Findlay Prep product Dominic Artis will both be sophomores.
In order to make another impression on NBA scouts, Moser needs minutes that likely weren’t going to be available at UNLV. With this change he’ll have that chance.
“It’s another opportunity to show scouts I’m healthy and I can play,” Moser said.