Courtesy: Iowa State University
AMES, Iowa--The campus is much different than what David Moss remembered it back in the 1980s. The former Cyclone center, who is back in Ames this week for just the second time since graduation, felt all of the wonderful memories rush in when he returned to Cyclone Country to assist at ISU’s Big Man/Guard camp.
“Iowa State is just an outstanding place to be and I am thrilled to be back,” Moss said. “You come to Hilton Coliseum, it’s like going to Wrigley Field. The fans are so knowledgeable about basketball, and coming back this week, people actually remembered me and when I played. It was just a great time in my life. I’m sorry it took me 20 years to come back.”
Teaching and coaching have always been in his blood. A native of Franklin Park, Ill., Moss is currently a special education teacher and an assistant basketball coach at Proviso East High School, one of the top prep basketball programs in the Chicago area. Michael Finley, Shannon Brown, Dee Brown and Steven Hunter are among the school’s current NBA alumni.
Moss was a key player in ISU’s turnaround in the mid-1980s, pouring in 448 points and grabbing 375 boards in his four-year career (1983-86). Moss and the Cyclones qualified for postseason play in his final three seasons. Moss was a sophomore in 1983-84, starting 25 games on ISU’s NIT team, the first Cyclone squad to reach the postseason in 40 years. It was Moss’ best season, averaging 7.3 points and 5.9 rebounds. He was ISU’s sixth man in his last two campaigns, as the Cyclones made back-to-back NCAA Tournament appearances, including a Sweet Sixteen berth as a senior in 1986.
“The players that played on that (1986) team, Jeff Grayer, Horny (Jeff Hornacek), were just phenomenal.” Moss said. “We were probably the most overachieving team in the country that year. Horny hit the shot to beat Miami (Ohio) against Ronnie Harper in the first round, and we just kept progressing after that. There was a lot of love. When we came back from some road trips, there would be four or five hundred fans waiting for us. It was just outstanding the way the people supported us and Iowa State.”
Moss was among a handful of Cyclone stars that Johnny Orr recruited from the Chicago area, joining players like Hornacek, Ron Harris and Sam Hill to help change the basketball culture in Ames. He felt a special bond with his fellow Windy City brethren, especially Hornacek, a walk-on at ISU who went onto a successful 14-year NBA career.
“There were a lot of Chicago kids coming in and the connections we all had kept us close,” Moss added. “Horny is someone I’d share rides back to Illinois with. Jeff was a great guy. He was so competitive in everything he would do. From ping pong to chess, whatever he would play. Growing up with all his brothers he was so competitive, which made him a great player. He’s a super person. It was a great era for us. It was a great era for Iowa State.”
The trip down memory lane is something Moss will never forget about his week back in Ames. He also takes away a sense of optimism with the direction of the Cyclone basketball program.
“I played against Coach McDermott when he was at Northern Iowa, but this is the first time I have met him,” Moss said. “I got the chance to sit down and talk with him and his assistants. And you know what? They are great people. Hopefully he’ll be able to land some of those recruits and get them in here and get the program where he wants. I know he will be very successful here. It’s back to feeling like a family atmosphere.”