From the age of three, freshman guard Kai Moon knew she was different. When other kids took shots at the basketball hoop looming high above them, their balls may have barely touched the rim. Most of them probably didn’t even make it that far. Except hers — Moon was one of the few players in her age group who could make shots.

“My parents, from there, realized if this is something I liked to do, I could be good at it,” Moon said.

Early in her career, she struggled to find a team for girls her age. Instead, Moon joined the boys’ teams so she could play competitive basketball. According to Moon, her father played a big role in teaching her the discipline needed to improve.

“I remember countless nights after he’d get home from work,” Moon said. “We’d go to the [YMCA] and he would force me to do shooting, mechanics, dribbling. Sometimes I’d get frustrated and I’d want to leave or I’d cry. From there, he just kind of showed me work ethic.”

Those early moments got Moon hooked on basketball. She studied and re-watched videos of Michael Jordan. She kept a close eye on the NBA, knowing every player and following every game.

During her senior year at Nequa Valley High School in her home state of Illinois, Moon averaged a team-best 14.7 points and ended her career with 1,279 total points. She decided to play at Binghamton after hearing BU head coach Linda Cimino’s vision of how she would fit into the program. The transition from high school to college play is difficult for any player, and despite her natural talent, Moon didn’t escape some growing pains.

“Sometimes the only people that are going to have confidence in you is maybe you and maybe your coaches,” Moon said. “You have to earn everything that’s given to you at this level.”

The BU coaching staff certainly has confidence in Moon, who has started all 29 of the Bearcats’ games this season. The rookie has played a key role in BU’s 13 wins, averaging 8.4 points per contest.

A goal of Moon’s moving forward is to help her team to execute for the duration of games.

“We played maybe a good half, maybe a good three quarters, maybe even a good 3 1/2 quarters, but a lot of times we can’t put it together for a full forty and that’s where we’ve lost games,” Moon said.

Moon is third on the team and eighth in the conference in minutes played per game, spending an average of 33.5 minutes on the floor.

“It’s an honor and a privilege that my coaches trust me to be on the court not only at the beginning of games, but at the end when the game’s on the line,” Moon said.