Hillhouse track and field standout Gary Moore Jr. commits to Baylor

NEW HAVEN — For 16-year-old Gary Moore Jr., a senior Hillhouse indoor track and outdoor track standout, he didn’t want to rush it and make a quick decision when deciding his choice for college.

“I wanted to make the right decision and find the college that was right for me academically and for athletics,” Moore said. “I also wanted to find a college that made me feel comfortable being there.”

Moore had over a dozen Division I colleges to choose from and whittled it down to UCLA, Kentucky (where his sister Leah competes in track and field), Duke, Baylor and Stanford. That five-team list became the short list of Baylor, UCLA and Kentucky.

On Saturday at a press conference at Floyd Little Athletic Center, Moore, who excels in the throwing events, announced he will be taking his talent to Baylor. He actually signed his letter of intent to play there three weeks ago.

At the same press conference, Olivia O’Connor, who also excels in the throwing events, announced she is committed to the application process of Dartmouth College.

For Moore, it all came down to his recent visit to Baylor in Waco, Texas.

“I made my visit at Baylor on Oct. 17 and up to that point I still had no idea what college I wanted to go to.” Moore sasid. “I loved the Baylor campus, the academic program is very good and the track and field coaches are very good. But what did it for me is from the moment I walked onto the campus, they didn’t make me feel like a new recruit.

“It was like I was already part of a family, their Baylor family. It felt great being there. It reminded me of Hillhouse because that’s what we are here. The Hillhouse track and field team, everyone on our team, the players and coaches, we’re family.”

Speaking of family, Moore has the unique advantage that his mom and dad, Michele Moore and Gary Moore Sr., happen to be the Hillhouse head boys coach for indoor track (Gary Sr.) and outdoor track (Michele).

“Right now, I am filled with emotion because this is my boy, my dude,” Gary Moore Sr. said. “After going through all this recruiting process, Gary made a very good decision and it wasn’t an easy decision. Gary turned down some great schools. UCLA was right there. But Baylor is a great school and it’s a Christian-based school.

“Nike is also involved with the school and I’ll be doing some research to see what can be pursued through the new NIL (monetizing Name, Image and Likeness) opportunities after he leaves high school.”

In addition to the colleges mentioned above, other colleges Gary Moore Jr. considered include Iowa, Penn State, Harvard, Michigan, Mississippi State and Virginia.

“I am so proud of Gary, when they are young you really don’t know who they will become,” Michele Moore said. “I’ve seen who he has become the last few years and he has been focused and determined. I don’t need to tell him what to do, now he just does it with academics and athletics. Baylor is a good fit for him.

“While COVID-19 has been tough for many people, last year it became a turning point for our family. We spent more time together and it brought us closer together as a family. It also allowed Gary and Leah to have a lot more time to work and develop their throwing skills.”

Gary Moore Jr. said making his college decision now takes a lot of pressure off going into the indoor and outdoor track seasons. His goal is to break as many state records as he can. Last week at the Metro Invitational meet at The Armory in New York he threw a personal best 63 feet in the shot put, three inches off the state record. At the State Open last spring in the outdoor season he set a meet record in the discus with a throw of 188-7.

O’Connor committed to the Dartmouth application process for the same reason Moore decided to go to Baylor.

“When I looked at Ivy League schools I was looking for the same family environment we have here at Hillhouse,” O’Connor said. “The coaches, athletes and people I met at Dartmouth were excellent and made me feel welcomed there.”