The adjustment to college can be a difficult process for many freshmen.
For a lot of them, it is the first time in their lives they have to be self-sufficient, self-motivated and self-disciplined. Most of the crutches they took for granted at home are no longer there once they start life on a college campus.
The transition can feature some bumps even without the extra responsibilities of being a student-athlete.
La Salle coach John Giannini did not have any questions about the basketball abilities of freshman guard Jamir Moultrie. He came to the Explorers as a four-star recruit and the 25th-ranked point guard in the recruiting class of 2017.
Moultrie turned down late interest from Georgetown and Georgia to join La Salle, which had recruited him out of Bishop McNamara High (Forestville, Md.) longer than anyone.
To Giannini, who has a Ph.D. in kinesiology with a specialization in sports psychology, basketball is only part of being a college basketball player, and he needed to see more of the complete package from Moultrie.
“He’ll be the first to tell you that when it came to college he had to figure out what college basketball was all about,” Giannini said. “I’ll quote Jamir because this is to show what a great kid he is and has become.
“He said to someone, ‘If I [still] did the things I did the first semester, they might have thrown me off of the team.’ He was just not being responsible and mature.”
Obviously, Moultrie was not booted from the program. But neither was he rewarded for not doing the right things.
The first semester featured more did-not-plays (eight) than games played (six) for Moultrie. He totaled just 23 minutes in the 2017 portion of this season’s schedule.
The new year, however, brought a new outlook from Moultrie. Whatever issues he was having, he cleaned them up.
“I definitely adjusted to the having-a-lot-of-time thing,” Moultrie said. “In high school, you didn’t have a lot of time to yourself. You have to learn to manage your time. That’s what I’ve been working on throughout the school year.”
Giannini responded by giving the freshman more playing time.
In nine games in 2018, Moultrie has totaled 121 minutes – including more than 20 in the last two games, against Davidson and Saint Joseph’s. Moultrie totaled 37 points in those two games and drained 11 of 17 three-point shots.
“I had to learn how to be under control when I played,” he said. “In college, you definitely can’t rush things. You have to stay poised and have composure. At first, I lost confidence because I wasn’t playing that much, but now I’ve got it back.
With the Explorers (10-13, 4-6 Atlantic 10) looking to close the regular season with momentum to carry into the A-10 Tournament, Moultrie could be a valuable contributor. Of his 27 field goals, 20 have been three-pointers. He’s shooting 48.8 percent (20 of 41) from long distance.
“To Jamir’s credit, he just worked so hard to get playing time,” said Giannini, whose team plays at George Washington on Wednesday. “Once he realized what he had to do at this level in terms of responsibility, work ethic and getting extra work in, he’s been phenomenal.
“Jamir listened, learned and got better. His practice habits are better. His off-the-court actions are better. He’s better in study hall, better in the classroom, better in the weight room. When you do everything right, you get to play.”