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Patience paid off as Aanen Moody leaves lasting legacy with Montana Grizzlies

Montana State at Montana men's basketball
Posted at 7:24 PM, Mar 05, 2024

MISSOULA — Few players have become the fan favorite that Aanen Moody has with the Montana Grizzlies.

Now, as the seventh-year senior gets set to wrap up his final days as a Grizzly, he's been appreciative of the opportunity offered to him by Montana, something he'd been looking for his entire career.

"I'm kind of a showman," Moody said. "And I like to perform a little bit. So I think that when the crowd really got into the games, I think that it just gave me an extra burst. And, you know, I think that that helped a lot.

"I think that in basketball, you know, the fans show up because they want to be entertained, and part of being entertained, is having fun. And I think that if they see somebody on the court having fun, then that energy is going to be reciprocated through the fans."

Moody, a native of Dickinson, N.D., began his career at the University of North Dakota and then Southern Utah, where he saw positives, but often was tasked with waiting his turn.

Those stops helped him stay humble and prepared him for the explosion of success at Montana.

"I think the path that I've taken is obviously not the path of least resistance. I've played behind a lot of good players and have been able to develop my game in ways that I need to impact the game more than just by my scoring," Moody said.

"And so I think that all of those years of sitting behind guys who I may have been better than but sitting in these positions of coming off the bench had made me the player that I am today."

That player today is the 3-point marksman who broke out a season ago for the Griz as an all-conference talent in his first major opportunity.

In just two seasons at UM he's scored 949 points already for the Griz — he has 1,631 for his career — as Moody, who has started in all 58 games he's played at UM, has provided a spark with his offense and his ability to engage the crowd. But this year it's been about expanding that impact with the rest of the team.

"If one guy's getting hot, you know, we have this thing called consideration of the game, and people are gonna find you," Moody said. "So I'm the type of player where, you know, I might miss a couple, but then I might make a couple. And then when that happens, you know, I need the ball.

"And so I have teammates that have really good consideration for me, and I have good consideration for them. So I think that's why we fit along with the coaching staff and just giving me the freedom and the green light. It's something that I never got before.

"I think that, because of my journey, I don't have a sense of entitlement. I think I have a sense of gratefulness for being in the position that I'm at. And, you know, I think it just all aligned perfectly where, last year, I was able to break out and have a good individual season. But now in my last year, I really just want to win. And so now we have an opportunity with a great team and a great record going into Boise to finally get a championship and be a big role in that championship. I think I'm in the best position that I could be right now."

Moody hasn't been your average college athlete as a father of two sons and late bloomer in basketball, but his life off the court has been an inspiration to his abilities on it.

"I think it just makes me levelheaded and makes me a better leader," Moody said. "You know, it's a lot easier to lead a basketball team than it is to lead a family, especially when it comes to kids. So I think that has just grown my personality, and obviously given me a different perspective on life and in the game that I never had before.

"On the court, I think that I give a lot of energy. But off the court, I think my biggest component of, of an asset is just the wisdom that I have from having a family and being able to lead it.

Moody has a degree in exercise science and also an MBA. He hopes to work with people in the future, such as training or even chiropractic school among options he's considered.

It's been a long, winding college journey for Moody, who has been appreciative and grateful along the way as well as for those alongside him, as he hopes to cap off his career with a Big Sky tournament title and a trip to the NCAA tournament before it's all said and done.

"It's changed the trajectory of my life forever," Moody said. "The people that you meet, just the connections that you make the relationships, I'm starting to realize that those are actually the most important part of my process. But it'd be nice to get a championship as well.

"Best time of my life. You know, definitely it's my home now. It's where my family is going to be for, you know, many years. So we don't plan on leaving. I'm gonna be a Griz forever. So yeah, it's home."