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On Friday Florida Gulf Coast University will take on Georgetown in an NCAA tournament matchup one day after Belmont battles Arizona. In the back of his mind, Eric Moeller knows that he could have found himself suiting up in one of those games having been recruited by FGCU and Belmont. Instead, the 6-11 former De Smet Jesuit big man is on the sideline, itching to get back into the game.
Moeller turned down scholarship offers last spring from mid-major programs for the chance at being a preferred walk-on at the University of Missouri. He'd redshirt this season to build strength with the goal of going on scholarship at some point down the road.
He declined to get specific in a phone interview earlier this week about exactly what happened, but said that "things weren't going well." He said he wasn't kicked off the team. Missouri Head CoachFrank Haith confirmed Moeller's exit last October in an interview with Patch, while saying he thought Moeller still had "a good basketball future."
"I made the wrong decision," Moeller said of the choice to go to Mizzou. It's nobody's fault," he said, admitting that he got caught up in the idea of being in a big time college basketball environment.
In the time since, he's been in the gym working out, getting "a lot" bigger and stronger. He's kept in touch with his former De Smet Jesuit teammates and coaches on their run to the state finals, and that the team's loss against Rockhurst brought him back to his own memories of losing last season's district final in an upset to Parkway North. He said he's been texting Jimmy Barton and Nolan Berry about not taking playing for granted.
And he's on the trail looking for a new hoops home, carrying a full four years of eligibility and a hunger for the structure which comes with being on a team.
Over the winter break, he visited UC-Santa Barbara and liked it, except that they're out of scholarships for the coming season. He checked out Eastern Michigan University over the weekend and said he has an offer there, as well as one from Florida Gulf Coast University, where he'll visit sometime after spring break.
A decision will likely come in late April so that next spring, he can fulfill a dream of saying he played in the NCAA tournament.
"I was meant to play," Moeller said. "I miss it everday."
I'm a married mom with one son, Eric (19), two stepchildren and a baby grandson. I met my husband on a blind date set up by friends. We dated for 10 years before getting married six years ago. I grew up in a small beach town in Southern California and have lived in the Midwest since age 25. I love it here! My passions are reading, sports, and animals. Thanks for stopping by!