By KYLE LOVERN
PIKEVILLE, Ky. – He was one of the most highly recruited basketball players in the history of Williamson High School. At 6-foot-10, Danny Moses towered over all of his opponents during his playing days in the late 1960s and early 1970s.
Big Mo, as he was known, was a 3-time high school All-American center for the late George Ritchie. Moses scored over 2,400 career points and hauled in over 1,000 rebounds.
Moses was special when he stepped onto the hardwood back in the early 1970s. He still holds many scoring and rebound records at the historic Williamson Fieldhouse. During his senior season, he averaged 32 points per game and pulled down 17 rebounds per contest.
Unfortunately, Moses and his teammates were unable to make it to the state tournament during his tenure, despite always being ranked as one of the top teams in the state.
“That is my worst memory,” Moses said from his Shelbiana, Ky. home. “Never getting by Logan in the sectional tournament or winning a state championship. Even at a young age, I remember the intensity of this rivalry and how good it was for both of those communities.”
“It was expected of us and it put a lot of pressure on me and my teammates,” he recalls. “I always felt personally responsible for us not achieving our goal.”
A member of the inaugural WHS Hall of Fame, Moses started as a skinny 6-foot-6 freshman, something that was rare for a varsity player in those days. Most 9th graders played junior high ball.
“I had a lot of respect for Coach Akers (Willie) and those players. I spoke to him at Coach Ritchie’s wake. I thought it was a class act for him to attend the wake,” Moses said.
But Moses was able to move on from that disappointment and have a productive college career. “I was able to get my degree and teaching certificate and make a living,” he added. “I knew I wasn’t going to make a living playing basketball.”
“The main thing is that you’re a productive member of society – that’s the important thing,” Moses said. “It took me a long time to reconcile my career. I didn’t achieve that goal. But, looking back, I’m satisfied with my effort.”
“I was fortunate to play with some good teammates for all four years. Playing for Coach Ritchie and Coach (Ben) Hamilton – I have some great memories,” he added, even though his teammates changed each year during his 4-year career of wearing the maroon and white.
Moses first committed to Marshall University and Coach Carl Tacy. The Herd was just coming off a great period with those early 1970 teams that featured a national ranking and players like Mike D’Antoni, Randy Noll and Russell Lee. Tacy coached the Herd to a 23–4 season in 1971–72 and the team was ranked as high as No. 8 in the nation that season, and finished 12th in the nation. Lee was a Converse All-American in 1972.
But then Tacy bolted for Wake Forest and talked Moses into following him to Tobacco Road in Winston-Salem. Moses wasn’t happy down there and transferred back to Pikeville College to be closer to home.
At Pikeville he played for Wayne Martin, who recruited several top-notch regional talents, and led the Bears to some of the best seasons in many years. It was one of the greatest eras in Bears history during the mid-1970s. “Things ended differently in Pikeville,” Moses said. “We beat the No. 1 in the country (Ky. State), which was one of the best games in my career – either high school or college career.”
Big Mo, who had been a scoring and rebounding machine for the Williamson Wolfpack, had a solid career for Pikeville. Moses still holds the single game rebound mark at Pikeville with 27 in one game.
Lately, however, he is in a battle for his life. He has a rare disease known as Wegener’s granulomatosis. “It is definitely a life threatening disease,” Moses said. “I always wanted to be special, but not this way,” he said with a laugh.
Wegener’s granulomatosis is an uncommon disorder that causes inflammation of the blood vessels, which in turn restricts blood flow to various organs. Most commonly Wegener’s affects the kidneys, lungs and upper respiratory tract. The restricted blood flow to these organs can damage them. There is no known cause for the illness.
Physically, Big Mo was an intimidating figure. But he admits the battle with Wegener’s disease has knocked him down a bit. “The thing about being sick, you can go to the doctor and get better. But, in my case it took about a year and half to get the diagnosis.”
The last few years he was a GED (General Education Diploma) instructor. But because of his recent health problems, he has taken an early retirement.
“I truly miss working. I worked with the best teachers you could ask for. My supervisor Judith Branham and Superintendent Roger Wagner were very good to me during a very stressful time in my life. I was sick and didn’t know what was wrong.”
Like many others who are middle-aged, he reflects back to his athletic career and those special memories.
More recently, Moses has enjoyed watching his 7-year old grandson, Blake Adams, participate in local youth basketball leagues. Blake’s 15-year old sister Ciara is a cheerleader at Pike Central. He also has two other granddaughters Akira and Cheyenne Keathley that he enjoys spending time with.
Moses, who just had a birthday on June 9, turned 58 years old.
“My wife Kathy has been tremendous,” he said. “I couldn’t have made it through this without having her to lean on. God has truly smiled on me. Many people prayed for me and put me on prayer lists – and I appreciate it.”
(Kyle Lovern is the sports editor for the Williamson Daily News. Comments or story ideas can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org)