Since the third grade, sophomore forwards Matthew Moyer and Seth Towns have been inseparable. Playing alongside one another in the AAU season, in open gyms, and at the YMCA, the pair have a connection unlike many others at the high school level. While Towns has been the prized prospect in Central Ohio since he step foot at Columbus' historic Northland High School a year ago, Moyer has traveled a much different path, one that led each to Value City Arena on Sunday.
Describing Moyer's journey, one that has included quite a bit of adversity, can be summed up in one word.
"Perseverance," Annette Moyer, Matthew's mother, said of what has made the biggest difference in her son, one year removed from a turbulent freshman season at Columbus' Whetstone High School.
"Matthew has a strong personality which we are coming to realize is very needed in this industry."
Although Moyer started as a freshman for the Braves, a shaky relationship with the coaching staff and questionable confidence on the hardwood seemed to limit the sophomore from realizing his ultimate potential. Moving to the Gahanna area, Moyer has received a fresh start with Lincoln High School, and the results have been nothing short of amazing.
"He could have gotten down on himself or quit, but he refused," Annette said. "He has a great attitude even when it is not reciprocated. He treated his old coach with old fashioned respect (yes sir, no sir) even when he was belittled in front of everyone."
Moyer's character has been a considerable strength for the sophomore, and a quality that has attracted the likes of college coaches across the Midwest region. When the odds have been stacked against him, Moyer has responded with optimism, a trait that should help the forward transition to a new system at Gahanna.
During the AAU season, Towns and Moyer starred on a non-traditional club that has defied cultural norms on the circuit. Playing for the VCC Ohio Warriors, VCC standing for Vineyard Community Center, the pair of sophomores have put God and academics before basketball. In an industry where morals and ethics are sometimes sacrificed for success on the hardwood, the Ohio Warriors have formed a one-of-a-kind program with some of the area's top talent.
"It (VCC) infuses God in every area, not just basketball. It has taught Matthew that it is important to give of yourself, and not just take," Annette said. "They surround these boys with not only a gym and sponsorship, but they show integrity and support off the court."
Led by former Ohio State assistant coach Dave Spiller, the Warriors had a successful summer in 2013, highlighted by a 49-4 record, including a third round finish at the Adidas Super 64 in July. The Warrior program has surrounded its players with men of integrity, as pastors Kerry Davis, Dave Anderson and Jerome Smith are constantly involved with team functions. Former Buckeye standouts Clark Kellogg and Ron Stokes have also been involved with the program, providing valuable insight and motivational speaking.
"There have been lean times for the Warriors where other teams have tried to tear us apart but to see those core boys standing together and Vineyard standing in the gap is priceless," Annette said. "These are examples that hopefully will help mold their character."
Visiting Ohio State for the Buckeyes' preseason opener vs. Division-II Walsh, Towns and Moyer got a taste of what Thad Matta's program is all about. Supporting one another for the last several years, Towns and Moyer have formed a bond that should continue to strengthen as the recruiting process wears on.
Seeing the pair of talented young men succeed on such a high level has been quite the experience for Moyer's mother.
"It brings tears to my eyes because out of everyone, they have been through the most. They spend a lot of time together off the court, challenging each other academically and athletically," Annette said. "They want the best for each other. There is no jealousy. Seth took off before Matthew and I can remember being at Chipotle and Seth praying for Matthew's time to come soon."
After receiving offers from Virginia Tech and Wisconsin within the last month, it appears Matthew's time to shine is just beginning.
Having the opportunity to meet Buckeye point guard Aaron Craft, junior center Trey McDonald, and high-flying junior Sam Thompson, Moyer said the visit "ranks up there as one of my best."
Sitting behind the bench, the sophomores had a chance to see what the Buckeye coaching staff brings to the table. Moyer even noted that he seems himself fitting in "a whole lot," with Matta's system, something that should bode well for Ohio State's pursuit of the duo.
Towns also received an offer from the Hokies last week, adding to a list that includes Dayton, Ohio and Xavier. After hitting big shot after big shot in the postseason for Northland a year ago, Towns has upgraded an already impressive offensive skill set. With great length at 6'8, Towns is an efficient scorer that has improved his outside shooting in recent months.
Visiting Ohio State at the end of September, Towns had "pretty good" impressions of his return visit on Sunday. The sophomore said he also had a chance to talk to the coaching staff following the win over Walsh.
As Towns and Moyer's journeys have weaved in different directions over the years, the sophomore duo has constantly found common ground on and off the hardwood. Sunday's visit to Columbus was another bright moment for the pair of sophomores who are building even brighter futures.
"It feels amazing to know that me and my best friend have the opportunity to take another step in life together," Towns said.