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Why is On3 higher than the industry with 4-star C Malachi Moreno

On3 imageby:Jamie Shaw06/10/24


Malachi Moreno is an interesting prospect in the everchanging way that basketball is played at the highest levels today. With that said, he is not a finished product which makes his continued growth potential so intriguing. With that, here at On3, we are higher than the industry with the 7-foot-0 center from Georgetown (KY) Great Crossing High ranking him the No. 17 overall player in the recently updated 2025 On3 150.

On3 leaves nothing to question when we talk about the objective of our rankings. The goal of our rankings is to assess a prospect’s long-term potential, ultimately manifested by the NBA Draft. Our ranking does not assess who had the best high school career or who will be the best college player. This is why we will shoot to end each cycle with 14 five-star prospects following the lead of the NBA Draft Lottery. This can be different from others, but our vision with ratings is draft night.

On3 has Moreno ranked No. 17 in the most recent 2025 On3 150 update. He is ranked currently No. 68 by ESPN, No. 27 by 247 Sports, and No. 58 by Rivals. Criteria can be different across the industry when it comes to players and the order in which they are ranked. So let’s break down why On3 is higher on Malachi Moreno than the industry.

Moreno’s size and physical makeup

For starters, Malachi Moreno is listed at 7-foot-0 tall. That is unique in itself, among the human population. Even in basketball, guys who are true footers are not often seen. So starting with the size, and the fact that he carries a plus wing span, that is the starting point as the most intriguing aspect of his game.

However, as you start to peel back Moreno’s layers, you discover that he is much more than simply tall. The four-star center is also a naturally fluid athlete. While he is still growing into his frame, as you would expect of a 17-year-old, Moreno can open his hips and move laterally. While he is not a crazy-twitchy athlete, he is a fluid one. At 7-foot-0 with a plus wing span, the fluidity can be very useful on both ends of the floor.

Moreno still carries a thin frame, and he will need to continue adding weight, but he shows that he does not lack toughness. Through multiple settings, Moreno has shown that he is not afraid of contact in the paint and around the basket.

He is also a good runner. He will need to continue working on his stamina, which should come as he continues to add strength, he will make multiple plays, throughout the course of a game, that simply come because he runs from the front of the rim to the front of the rim and seamlessly changes ends of the floor.

While he still needs to add strength and continue growing his game, the size, athletic fluidity, and touch, you see while watching the production he already provides, make for a player that is necessary to keep tabs on.

Moreno’s defensive presence

As you would expect, Malachi Moreno is a good rim protector. While still thin, he has natural timing, with both hands, and he is able to rotate and wall up to affect the shot.

While he might not be the twitchiest player on the floor, he has excellent feel and an understanding of angles. On the ball, he does a good job of keeping contact and elevating straight up. Off the ball, he has a natural sense of reading the play and tracking the ball. His teams play him in drop coverage as well as in switching schemes and he seems to always be in the right spot to be in the play.

Moreno will need to continue adding strength, especially to his base and to his core. Those will help to continue to elevate his defensive presence. There is some capable switchability with Moreno as well, especially in the big to forward switches. While he might not be the post player you want on an island with a perimeter-based wing, he can show, hedge, and slide against screening actions.

Perhaps the most impressive piece of Moreno’s game, for me at least, is his rebounding. Moreno is an excellent area rebounder, high-pointing the basketball and securing it with two hands to his chin. Playing for his Georgetown (KY) Great Crossing high school team this year, Moreno averaged 13.3 rebounds per game. In the finals of December’s Beach Ball Classic, Moreno finished with 25 rebounds. His 54 three-game total is the third most in the 40-plus years of the event.

Moreno has been able to continue those rebounding numbers while playing with the Indiana Elite team on Adidas’ 3SSB Circuit. According to Synergy, Moreno is averaging 8.7 rebounds per game. This summer, the 7-footer is also adding 13.6 points, 2.0 assists, and 2.3 blocks while shooting 61.8 percent from the field.

How does he score?

Great Crossing High finished the high school season 36-2 overall and made it to the Kentucky Open Division State Final Four. Malachi Moreno averaged 16.0 points, 13.3 rebounds, 2.2 assists, and 3.7 blocks while shooting 65.6 percent from the field.

Offensively, he still shows flashes, but those flashes are becoming consistently productive. A lot of what he does is around the basket. At this point, Moreno is a good screener as he rolls directly to the front of the rim. He has passer-friendly hands, even in traffic, and keeps the ball high. He also creates spacing for his team as a vertical lob threat, playing out of the dunker spot, and occupying the opposing team’s big from being able to willingly help.

Moreno can play with his back to the basket, he has a go-to move he is comfortable with over his left shoulder and he has patience and touch. Where he will need to continue developing is with the strength. He will need to continue establishing his base and core which will help keep him from getting knocked off his spots. He will also need to continue working on his hand and grip strength. While he has big hands, at times in the paint, smaller guys simply can knock the ball loose.

Moreno has touch on his jump shot, but the release and the shot load can be erratic. This leads to flat shot arcs and shots missing left and right. While he can make a jump shot at this point, he will need to clean up the mechanics and consistency. I think long-term, there is something there and shooting could become a part of his game.

He plays within himself, and does not force his opportunities – Moreno is 311-481 from the field over this past high school and current Adidas 3SSB season – he will need to continue to expand his offensive game and tighten his skill set.

Projecting Malachi Moreno looking ahead

Bigs who can play in the league are very valuable because of how unique they are. While rarely are centers the highest-paid players on any playoff or championship-caliber rosters, a starting NBA center has such a unique disposition.

Approximately 3,000 people around the globe are 7-foot-0, or taller, which is less than 5 percent of the world’s population. Now, add to that the amount of those 7-footers who can move their feet, run and catch, and process on a basketball court. That is what makes starting-capable centers very unique.

While only 17 years old, Moreno’s physical makeup makes him intriguing. He still has growth needed in his overall game, from the strength aspect to the skills aspect, but he is already comfortable making plays and has shown consistent growth over the past 12-plus months.

Moreno has taken an official visit to Iowa, his only one at this point. He reportedly has a September official visit set with Indiana and says he will set visit dates with Baylor, Kentucky, and Ohio State. Moreno, who has not publicly narrowed a list yet, is also talking with programs like UNC, Arkansas, Illinois, and Louisville.

As we continue to monitor Moreno, and the rest of this 2025 recruiting cycle, we see interesting indicators in him that already that translate toward the highest levels. Since starting to track him, about mid-way through his freshman season, we are also seeing consistent growth in his game with a still high attainable ceiling.