As the University of Missouri and Steve Moore fans came pouring into the band room across the hall from the Truman High School gymnasium, the former Patriot basketball standout smiled and shook his head in delight.

As the University of Missouri and Steve Moore fans came pouring into the band room across the hall from the Truman High School gymnasium, the former Patriot basketball standout smiled and shook his head in delight.

“This is going to be fun,” said Moore, The Examiner’s 2008 Player of the Year and a senior member of the 30-5 University of Missouri men’s basketball team.

Moore and his senior teammates are on a barnstorming tour that brought them to Truman Wednesday night where more than 800 fans shelled out $10 to see Moore and the other Tiger seniors sign autographs, pose for photos and play a runaway contest against a group of former area high school and collegiate standouts.

Moore, sitting at the first table in the band room, was charming and gracious and even promised one fan, “I won’t get writer’s cramp.”

More than 800 autographs later, he confirmed, “I’m fine – ready to play the game.”

As Moore greeted many former classmates, teammates, teachers and administrators, he would occasionally glance up and see someone special.

 His high school basketball coach, Billy Guinnee, was there with his wife and two young sons – 2-year-old Dayton and 6-year-old Gunnar.

As Guinnee attempted to pose the boys with the monstrous Moore, Dayton let Dad know he would have nothing to do with this Kodak moment.

“This is pretty special,” Guinnee said as he finally coaxed Dayton to get in the photo. “The attention Steve’s getting is well deserved. He’s a kid with a lot of heart who worked hard at Missouri and was part of something special.”

Moore’s senior class won a school record 107 games and two Big 12 Tournament championships.

“It’s hard to believe it’s all over,” Moore said. “That’s why something like this is so special. I really wanted to come back to Truman and give something back to the fans and all my friends and teachers.”

One of the last individuals to walk though the autograph line was Truman principal Kristel Barr, who gave Moore a bear hug.

“I hugged him when he graduated and I hugged him today and his shoulders are much, much bigger than he was in high school,” Barr said, beaming. “I’m a Missouri grad, so today is special for me in many ways. He was a great young man when he was here at Truman and he’s still a great young man.

“It’s just wonderful to see how all of his hard work paid off.”

Missouri guard Kim English grinned as he watched Moore interact with the fans.

“Steve is the best teammate I ever had, on any team I ever played on,” English said. “His friendship and all our success made my time at MU special. And now, coming to Steve’s old high school, gives me glimpse into what he meant to this school. This is pretty cool.”

Moore proved he had a sense of humor as one young fan, sporting a blue Kansas shirt with the inscription: “A Missouri fan waiting for his first Final Four,” which depicted a skeleton praying on its knees.

“You really want me to sign that,” Moore asked, feigning anger. “Man, you’re something else. It’s a good thing you caught me on a good day.”

Players from both teams received hearty welcomes as they entered the Truman gymnasium, but when Moore strolled on the court he was greeted with a familiar chant, “STEVE! STEVE! STEVE!”

He was presented a commemorative poster from Truman activities director Eric Holm before the game began and raised his arms in the air to thank the near sellout crowd.

“I’ve played in some pick-up games with Steve, but tonight is really special,” Truman senior Zach Large said. “When you see these guys in person, you know why they’re Division I players.”

Edriss Floyd, who played basketball with the 6-foot-9, 267-pound Moore two years at Truman, was taken back by his former teammate’s size.

“I used to pick on him,” said Floyd, who was a senior guard on the Truman team when Moore was a sophomore. “I’m not picking on him tonight. No way! He’s too big.”

At halftime of the Missouri players’ rout, fans rushed the court to get a final photo and chat with Moore, who was definitely the man of the hour.

“Isn’t this great?” asked Holm, who helped coordinate the event. “We had to start the game a little bit late because we wanted everyone in the autograph line the chance to meet Steve and the other players.

“I think everyone has had a good time tonight. The MU players have been so giving of their time and open to the fans. It’s just been a great night, one you’ll always remember.”