Moore makes the most of return to Purdue

E'Twaun Moore was honored at Mackey Arena, then made the most of his visit.

WEST LAFAYETTE -- When E'Twaun Moore first walked on Purdue's campus as a freshman, he never envisioned a night like Wednesday.

The Orlando Magic guard and Boilermaker great was honored at halftime, receiving a salute from the Mackey Arena crowd. He looked to the rafters with pride to see his number 33 immortalized in Purdue history.

"I was just hoping to get on the court," joked Moore, recalling his freshman year. "For this to happen, it's definitely huge."

Moore hasn't returned to Purdue since leaving as the program's all-time leading three-point shooter. He hadn't seen the renovations to Mackey Arena, a new look to the team, and of course, his jersey in the rafters next to teammates Robbie Hummel and JaJuan Johnson, as it has for two years.

On Wednesday night, Moore was back on campus with family and friends gathered, receiving a warm welcome from the fans.

"It's definitely exciting," Moore said. "I had a good four years here, so to come back and see my jersey in the rafters, it's exciting for me."

Added Purdue head coach Matt Painter: "It's well deserved. He's a class guy and worked very hard when he was at Purdue, in school and on the basketball court. Any honor that he received, he has worked for."

When halftime came, Moore took the court to a standing ovation. The fans stood throughout the ceremony, chanting his name. He kept the speech short and sweet, then got to something he had never done before—being a Boilermaker fan.

Moore walked through the Mackey Arena seating bowl during the second half and took in the game through vantage points he had never experienced. When the student section collectively chanted requesting for Moore to join them, he moved to the front row, even donning a gold Purdue helmet and posing for pictures.

"It feels good to come back as a fan and enjoy the game, enjoy the atmosphere," Moore said. "When you're playing, you're focused and sometimes you don't get to see everything in the crowd. Now, I can spectate and have fun."

The trip to West Lafayette came during a two-day break from the busy basketball season. Moore and the Orlando Magic return to action on Friday night when they travel to Madison Square Garden for a game with the New York Knicks.

Now in his second NBA season, Moore has averaged 6.8 points per game coming off the bench. He's not worry about the stresses of professional basketball, such as fighting for that next contract.

"I'm just letting myself enjoy it," Moore said. "You definitely can't press the issue. You just have to keep striving to get better and the rest will take care of itself."

Even through the grind of a busy NBA career, Moore follows Purdue as much as his schedule allows. He had seen six of the Boilermakers' first eight games, then finally seeing the team in person for the first time on Wednesday. Now, more than ever, he thinks fondly of four years at Purdue.

"The college experience is something you can't duplicate," he said.

After a special return to campus, Moore has more memories to carry forever.

Chris Emma has covered recruiting, college athletics and professional baseball for FOX Sports Next since 2009. Emma covered the Nebraska Cornhuskers and Northwestern Wildcats, and currently covers the Purdue Boilermakers. A Chicago native, he resides in West Lafayette.
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