Devin Williams and Ramone Moore: Separated by days, United in Melbourne

The relationship between Devin Williams and Ramone Moore didn’t start over basketball.

Instead, it was a coincidental conversation about their birthdays that built the bond between Melbourne United’s two new imports.

“It’s funny because when I first talked to Devin, somehow, someway, we started talked about our birthdays because our birthdays are two days apart,” Moore told The Pick and Roll at United’s season launch.

“His personality is kind of similar to mine and right away we clicked.

“As soon as I got here I introduced myself, he introduced himself, we were talking and now he’s one of my closest friends on the team.”

While the duo is separated by just a couple of days, Moore has the edge in experience. Moore is entering his fifth year of professional basketball, as his path has taken him to Italy, Israel, America, Hungary, Ukraine, Lithuania and now Australia.

Comparatively, Williams is a baby, as he is fresh out of college, after spending three years with the West Virginia Mountaineers.

This has made Moore a mentor to Williams, in the short time they’ve been together.

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“We talk a lot, on and off the court,” Moore said.

“Being my fifth year, this is my first time in Australia but I’ve been overseas in Europe.

"I try to give him knowledge on how things are, how to be a professional, how to carry himself and tell him there is going to be ups and downs, you just need to try and stick through it.

“I think he is transitioning pretty well.”

Moore has been down this path before. He has played on a new team in every year since 2012 and was set to join the Sydney Kings in the middle of last season, before the deal fell through.

When United came calling, though, it was an easy decision for the Philadelphia native.

“Melbourne reached out to my agent sometime in the offseason and I just jumped for the opportunity,” Moore said.

“I talked to a couple of people, I talked to Hakim Warrick who played here last year, I asked him how was it.

“He told me it was great, he loved it, and I just asked a couple of guys who I know who had played here in Australia before and they said it was a great opportunity.

“The language, it’s very Americanised here, just everything.

“I called back and told my agent I’ll take the deal and it went from there.”

For Williams, it was all about joining a team, and playing in a league, that’ll enhance the 22-year olds development.

“This was the best situation for me at the time and it was almost a no-brainer,” Williams said.

“Having an opportunity to be apart of something like this and be around some guys that are going to help me grow.

“Having a coaching staff who is also going to help me grow and help me get to my goal.”

While the pair took different journeys, both have landed at the same destination. And with the off-court relationship flourishing, the on-court partnership between Moore and Williams is set to be just as entertaining.

Moore will be coming off the bench for Dean Demopoulos’ squad and is hoping to provide a spark that was lacking last season.

“Throughout my career I’ve just been a scorer,” Moore said.

“One of those guys who can get my teammates involved as well.

“I’m just going to try to come in and do my best, do whatever the coach wants me to do to help the team.

“Whether it’s play defence or make open shots, take tough shots, whatever it takes to win I’m willing to do.”

While Moore will do his work out on the perimeter, expect to see Williams, who is a physical specimen, to do the dirty work down low.

“A tenacious rebounder and a hard player,” Williams said, when asked how he would explain his game.

“Somebody that gives their all. Passionate and someone who is willing to sacrifice for their brothers.”

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Their teammates are just as excited to see the pair in action.

“Ramone can put the ball in the hole and he’s very smart with the ball,” Tai Wesley said.

“He makes the right decision, makes the right pass and knows when to shoot.

“From Devin, the dude is a beast. He’s strong as an ox and he is not easy to keep off the boards.

“He is a fun and exciting young player and I think we’ll see his progression throughout the year.

“It’s his first year out of college and there is a learning curve but the progression will come and I’m excited to see it.”

Kyle Adnam, who has been called an energy plug for Melbourne, is eager to see the American pair bring even more electricity to the court.

“I think both of the guys are just going to bring energy, something we may have lacked last year,” Adnam said.

“Devin in particular down low and Ramone on the perimeter.”

Melbourne was able to get a sneak peak at what Moore and Williams can bring in the inaugural Australian Basketball Challenge (ABC) in Brisbane.

Across three outings, Williams was able to display his effectiveness, as he shot 58.3 per cent from the field, averaging 11.3 points and 9.3 rebounds. Williams showed his manic rebounding ability, while giving United the interior defender they crave.

Moore’s preseason was a bit more inconsistent, but his explosive scoring nature was on display against Adelaide 36ers, when he put up 25 points, shooting 10-of-13 from the field, in a starting role.

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However, Moore was amazed at the support provided from the Australian basketball fans, and he is keen to play in front of large crowds throughout the season.

“The crowd is a lot of people, you know 10-12 thousand people, I’ve never played in front of a large crowd like that in my career, so I’m pretty excited for that,” Moore said.

“It looks like guys are having fun as well.

“Not only just going out there and playing in front of thousands of fans and being competitive, they’re having fun while doing it.”

For Williams, being able to compete on the court against actual competition, not against each other in training, was refreshing.

“Yeah, it was definitely better, to play with the team,” Williams said.

“Especially going against each other over the last two months, we kind of wore down.

“Just to give us a sneak peak of what to look forward to as far as teams that we are going to be travelling to and they’re going to come and play against us.”

Moore and Williams haven’t been linked throughout their careers – one has been worldwide, while the other is a fresh face out of school.

However, both are aware of the opportunity that awaits and share one common goal – bringing a title to a team that came painfully close to it last season.

“I don’t want to put too much pressure on our team but I kind of think every team goes into the season wanting to win a championship,” Moore said.

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“You look across the board, all the great signings we made – David Andersen, David Barlow two-time Olympian, Chris [Goulding], Cedric [Jackson], Tai Wesley, myself, Devin.

“We have a lot of great pieces and we have guys that were already here – Todd Blanchfield, Nate [Tomlinson], who is a great person and great leader.

“I just feel like all the pieces that the guys needed from last year, they just added for this year, and I think from day one we came in and all wanted to work hard together and our main goal is to try and win a championship here.”