Last Chance U’s John Mosley Was Big Time Small College Player

Mosley's Small College Success

Dynamic basketball coach James Mosley, star of Netflix's Last Chance U: Basketball series, was a renowned small college player in the mid-1990s and flirted with an overseas hoops career after graduating.

Mosley starred at the California community college level and then in the small-college NAIA league. He began his basketball journey at the same community college he now coaches, East Los Angeles College (ELAC).

At ELAC from 1992 to 1994, Mosley served as team captain, earning all-conference honors and leading his team to the playoffs. He excelled at point guard, once leading the California community colleges in assists with 11.1 per game.

When a missing class stopped Mosley's chance to play at a Division I school, he pivoted to attend The Master's University (TMU), a small Christian college outside of Los Angeles. In the 1994-95 season, TMU posted an 18-game win streak that year and reached the NAIA Elite Eight. According to the Los Angeles Times, Mosley was the MVP of the NAIA tournament's Far West Region, averaging 18 points and 5.5 rebounds on a team with future Lakers guard Mike Penberthy.

After his senior season, Mosley and his Master's teammates went on an international tour, playing exhibition games, conducting youth clinics, and sharing their faith with fans. At the end of a Brazil trip, Mosley remained in the country for several weeks, hoping to catch on with a local team. Although he had a couple of tryouts, alone in the Portuguese-speaking country, he spent more time with his thoughts and his Bible than basketball. Mosley revealed to TMU's alumni magazine that this experience deepened his Christian faith.

Leaving Behind His Hoop Dreams To Help Others

After further attempts at a pro overseas career, Mosley returned home. Soon, a new window of opportunity opened, and Mosley became an assistant coach at TMU in 1998. In 2006, after eight years at TMU, Mosley moved up to Division I as a coach at Cal State Bakersfield.

Mosley finally got a chance to be a head coach in 2012, accepting the position at his community college alma mater, ELAC. Starting with just a meager part-time stipend, Mosley soon proved his worth, establishing ELAC as a perennial contender in California. Eventually rewarded with a more substantial position, he has compiled an outstanding record of 214-55.

More importantly to Mosley, he has helped dozens of players keep their hoop dreams alive and transfer for a chance to complete their bachelor's degrees. The Last Chance U series focuses on ELAC's reputation as a program that rejuvenates the broken careers of talented players who failed in their first attempt at Division I basketball.

On his personal website, Mosley explains his career this way: "It's my life's mission to help struggling young men who I see a lot of myself in, and I can do that through the game of basketball."

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