Hoops legend Pearl Moore reflects on Caitlin Clark and her basketball career

WHN | Mar 2, 2024

By Brandolyn Hellams SOUTH CAROLINA – Pearl Moore is a name that some may have heard for the first time…

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By Brandolyn Hellams

SOUTH CAROLINA – Pearl Moore is a name that some may have heard for the first time this month, but if you’re from Florence, SC it’s a name that most have likely known their entire life.

“Caitlin Clark bought all these people in my life.”

From a small city in South Carolina, Moore established herself as one of the most inventive scorers in college hoops history.  Yes, her name is forever etched in history, but she’s not one who enjoys interviews. 

Moore says she doesn’t like public speaking much, and she’s always been a bit shy and to herself. But when it comes to basketball, all of that goes out the window. 

Moore says her love for the game came at an early age. She remembers playing in the neighborhood with her brothers and other friends. This was at a time when basketball was beginning to gain more popularity.

“Just got amazed with trying to score it, whether we were calling it “scoring” or not at that age. 

Moore talks about how competitive she was as a young girl, playing against her brothers. Back then they didn’t always have a basketball goal so they would sometimes make one, either by nailing a milk crate or basket to a tree, or even a tire. No matter what the goal looked like, her main focus was to get the ball inside. 

That love for the game stayed with her, but so did her shyness. In fact, Moore mentioned that she didn’t try out for her high school girls team at first. One day Moore stayed in the gym shooting around, her then basketball coach saw her and said “we’re going to have to have another tryout.”

She went on to play varsity for her high school all four years, as well as AAU. It was then where she was starting to get recruited, but says the recruiting of today is nothing like the recruiting of yesterday.

“There wasn’t much recruiting back then. We were AIAW so we didn’t have that many scholarships.. Being not in the NCAA like the men were, if you didn’t get a scholarship or pell grants you paid for college yourself.”

Moore says she received scholarship offers from a school in Michigan and  Southeast Louisiana, but they were too far from home for her liking. Her coaches knew that and took her on a visit to upstate South Carolina to Anderson College. She went there for a year, before transferring to Francis Marion College {University} to play under Sylvia Hatchell.

Moore transferred to Francis Marion in Hatchell’s first year of coaching there. The two met prior to getting there, and even played two on two against each along with Moore’s brother and her  former high school coach Ann Long. Moore and Hatchell are only 5 years apart, but their dynamic was always player. Moore says now the relationship is coach and friend.

After her collegiate career, she averaged nearly 31 points per game and scored a total of 4,061 points. Keep in mind this was during a time where the three-point line did not exist, and she only played in 128 games. 

Moore says she never had the opportunity to win a national championship in college, so when the opportunity came professionally she was ready for it. After graduating college in 1979,  she was selected by the New York Stars in the Women’s Professional Basketball League (WPBL).  That same season the Stars won the championship with a team high 27-points by Moore.

“My contract was $6,000… but it was for the love of the game.”

Moore rounded out her professional career in Venezuela, and afterwards coached high school for a small stint.

“The basketball world is going crazy for women now. And I’m happy because you get to see more people in the stands.”

Moore still supports basketball both locally and nationally. She says she usually attends the final four each year. She also spoke of wishing that they would air more WNBA games. 

Moore has received numerous awards, honors and accolades. Including having her high school Alma Mater’s basketball court named in her honor, and a recreational gym dedicated in her hometown of Florence, SC.

In May of 2021, Moore was inducted into the Naismith Basketball Hall of fame. Fitting, and what some may even call long overdue. Especially for someone who still holds the all-time scoring record 45 years later. Reminding us all that there’s no gem like a Pearl.

Brandolyn Hellams is a journalist and producer in Atlanta, who covers sports and entertainment.

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