Adala Moto returns to lead Episcopal
As Arnaud Adala Moto evaluated his play Friday night, he shrugged off the dozen missed shots, some sloppy turnovers and a few other unattractive moments. Instead, there were two key things for fourth-ranked Episcopal's standout junior swingman to consider: He was back in the lineup and the Maroon earned another key victory.
After being sidelined for nearly two weeks with a minor knee injury, Adala Moto showed flashes of why he is considered one of the Washington area's top players in the class of 2012. He had a highlight-reel drive-and-dunk early on and scored six quick points early in the fourth quarter to spur visiting Episcopal to a 55-50 victory over third-ranked Landon in an Interstate Athletic Conference game in Bethesda.
"I took a lot of shots and my shooting percentage was pretty bad," said Adala Moto, who made 5 of 17 shots and finished with 14 points and nine rebounds. "But we got the win."
In a short amount of time, Adala Moto has blossomed into a top-tier college prospect. He said his performance at a Basketball Without Borders camp in Africa earned attention, and that led to former Georgetown player Joe Tuomo getting in touch with Episcopal Coach Jim Fitzpatrick.
Adala Moto arrived as a sophomore at the Alexandria boarding school before last school year and his rugged, aggressive play has been a hit among college coaches. He holds a dozen scholarship offers, including from Wake Forest of the Atlantic Coast Conference and Seton Hall of the Big East.
"He didn't start playing basketball until he was 13 years old," Fitzpatrick said. "Yeah, he's got improvements to make on his game but if he keeps making improvements [like he has], I'm excited to see where he is going to go."
Since Episcopal's 65-61 overtime victory in the teams' first meeting, the 6-foot-5 Adala Moto had not gone far, sitting out three games while rehabbing his knee with stretching and plenty of time with an ice pack to try to ease the swelling.
"It was painful sitting on the bench, that was the first time I sat on the bench," said Adala Moto, who is from Cameroon. "But I learned a lot from that, about my teammates and about the game."
Adala Moto was back in the lineup Friday, though, and he and Virginia recruit Darion Atkins provided plenty of entertainment as they went head-to-head at both ends of the court in the first quarter. Landon (14-4, 4-2) opened up a 13-point lead before Episcopal clawed back as Atkins and guard Joe McDonald (20 points) went to the bench with foul trouble.
The Maroon led 37-36 entering the final period when Adala Moto started the quarter by following his own miss, making two free throws and then making a long jumper. Junior guard Kethan Savage sealed the victory for Episcopal (14-2, 5-1) by making six consecutive free throws.
"Quite honestly, I did not know what I was going to get from Arnaud tonight," Fitzpatrick said. "What you saw was kind of a warrior."