When William Moody played basketball, it was a game to watch.
Moody, at 6-foot-3, did it all. He shot long, intermediate and short jumpers. He dunked, 360-degrees style. He played defense. He rebounded. He shared the ball.
Legend has it he “made change” by grabbing a quarter from the top of the backboard.
Andrew Moten recalled as a child climbing on the roof of Carter Parramore gymnasium in Quincy and looking through the glass panels, watching Moody and copying his style on playground courts. That was 40-plus years ago.
“He was the first player I saw that I wanted to be like,” said Moten, who starred at Florida (1983-87) and helped lead the Gators to their first NCAA Tournament appearance.
“There are always players who can do one thing good. He (Moody) was able to do everything good.
“He was the complete player.”
Moody, who helped lead tiny Greensboro High to three consecutive Class C state championships (1969-71) and later returned home to mentor youth and coach under Moten at West Gadsden High, died last week. He was 62.
It was on the court where Moody made a name for himself.
It’s a name that connects generations.
“He was one of the best high school players I have ever seen,” said Joe Ferolito, 73, a long-time advocate of youth and high school athletics in the area who coached Moody on the AAU Quincy Rackley’s Raiders.
“He was our Michael Jordan before there was a Michael Jordan,” said former West Gadsden standout Brandon Shingles, 21, a junior at Chattanooga State.
Moody played five varsity seasons at Greensboro, scoring 2,668 career points and helping the Bulldogs post consecutive undefeated seasons (32-0 in 1969-70 and 33-0 in 1970-71).
State newspapers chronicled the program’s success, with one scribe describing Greensboro, Florida, as “somewhere near Quincy, Florida, which is somewhere near Tallahassee.”
Moody set the tone and seemed to be everywhere on the court.
“You ought to see him handle the basketball,” Greensboro coach Lamar McGlaun said in a 1971 interview with The Evening-Independent in St. Petersburg. “And he can shoot. He’s fantastic.”
Moody also was a state champion in track in the high jump and held the state record in the long jump in 1970. Moody signed to play basketball at Florida but transferred after one year to Dillard University in New Orleans, where he suffered a freak accident that cost him his eyesight in one eye.
Many believe Moody had the talent to go pro, but as Moody himself said years later in an interview with the Tallahassee Democrat, “life doesn’t always give you those chances.”
Life returned Moody to Greensboro, where he played adult league basketball, married Emma nearly 16 years ago and made a difference with area youth.
“He ate, slept and breathed basketball,” Emma said. “He watched anything to do with sports, but he loved basketball with a passion. That’s where his heart was.”
When Moten, 50, was hired as the boys basketball coach at West Gadsden six years ago, he asked Moody to join his staff. Shingles said Moody helped him with the game’s fundamentals, from positioning and spacing his fingers correctly on the basketball when shooting to taking proper angles on rebounds.
While Moten and Moody were accomplished scorers in their hey-days – Moten is third all-time in points and seventh in assists on UF’s career lists – their focus was defense. They talked on the telephone for hours on end about basketball. Emma said she’d find the telephone receiver on her sleeping husband’s chest at night.
The Panthers were a state runner-up in 2013, and Moody also coached the Panthers’ junior varsity and middle school teams. When Moody’s health started to decline, he instructed players from a chair near courtside.
“He was a dear friend who is going to be greatly missed,” Moten said.