‘I didn’t have giving up in my heart’: Moon Ursin makes the most of her shot

Senior guard Moon Ursin celebrates with sophomore guard Jordyn Oliver during the Lady Bears’ 85-49 win over Kansas State on Feb. 27, which was senior night at the Ferrell Center. Rod Aydelotte (Waco Tribune-Herald) | Courtesy of Baylor Athletics

By Harper Mayfield | Sports Writer

In an organization with as much talent as Baylor women’s basketball, it can be easy for gifted players to get overlooked. Players can become frustrated and opt for a change of scenery. Many have.

Not Moon Ursin.

Ursin, a 5-foot-6 senior guard from Destrehan, La., has been well worth the wait. In her first three years as a Lady Bear, Ursin started five of the 96 games she played in. When she did play, it was sparingly. She saw her most minutes her junior year, averaging just over 15 per game. That’s all changed in her senior season. Ursin has started every game she’s played this year and has been on the court significantly more, with an average of almost 34 minutes per game. She stuck it out, and it paid off.

After having a bench role for so long, Ursin was confident she could make the leap to become one of the Big 12’s best players.

“I stepped into [being] this basketball player, this athlete that I knew I was all along,” Ursin said. “It’s my turn now, so I’m not going to waste it. I’m not going to let someone come in here and take my spot, or I’m not going to let someone work harder than me, or whatever it may be.”

Ursin’s spot in the rotation is certainly secure now, and her numbers have seen the fruits of that security. In her first three years, Ursin had averaged exactly four points per game. This season, she’s put up 11.6 points a night, including three 20 -point outbursts. Ursin has also blossomed into an effective rebounder, averaging almost seven boards a game, crossing the double-digit plateau six times.

While Ursin’s success has made this part of the journey sweet, that wasn’t always the case. Struggling for minutes, even on a dominant team, is tough, but Ursin was tougher.

“I didn’t have giving up in my heart,” Ursin said. “I knew it was going to be a timing thing. I just didn’t know how long, and it was hard … There were days I felt like I should leave.”

Head coach Kim Mulkey has been by Ursin’s side every step of the way and has a great appreciation for the result of Ursin’s hard work.

“What a tremendous senior year she has had,” Mulkey said. “The way I like to describe Moon … she’s just worked her way, worked her way up. Prior to a season starting, you hear talk about a lot of kids who you expect to be the better players in a league. Some of those kids, they just don’t have good years … then you have those players that nobody talks about, because they don’t know much about them yet — that’s Moon Ursin.”

Ursin’s growth has been noticed by fans around the nation, and she’s been recognized for it. Ursin was tabbed as Second Team All-Big 12 as well as getting a place on the All-Big 12 defensive team. Despite Ursin’s relative anonymity, Mulkey kept the faith.

“She’s a joy to coach,” Mulkey said. “Good things happen to kids who do things the right way, and … is it tough? Oh yeah, it’s tough, but look at what she’s doing now. Look at what she’s done for our basketball team.”

As tournament season approaches, Ursin will no doubt remain one of Baylor’s key pieces in the pursuit of a second consecutive national title. The Louisiana native missed out on a shot at a title in New Orleans last year, but will have the chance to win one in her new home state as the Lady Bears head to San Antonio for the NCAA Tournament. They say good things come to those who wait, and Moon Ursin knows that full well.