By Alex Byington
Killeen Daily Herald
Ojai Black knows he’s a Division I-caliber player.
Now he just needs to prove it to all the NCAA colleges that didn’t agree.
The Ellison senior guard verbally committed to play basketball at McLennan Community College during a visit to the Waco campus Thursday.
“I’m a real confident kid, I believe I can do anything on the basketball court, and I think of course everybody’s goal is to play Division I ball, but God has a plan for everybody and this is just a stepping stone for me,” said Black, who will sign April 8. “Eventually I’ll get there, I know I will.”
Black, who had varying interest from all levels, said he picked MCC because he liked the opportunity two-year junior college programs provides to road to propel players to the Division I level.
“That was one of the main things I told myself, a lot of guys come out of MCC get looked at and are highly recruited by Division I schools,” Black said. “If I just come in and do what I’m capable of in the two years that I’m there, I can be one of those guys.”
Ellison head coach Alberto Jones couldn’t agree more with Black’s assessment.
“I think in the right program he could have played Division I right now, but after a year or two at MCC, I think he will have (plenty of) D1 options,” Jones said.
Black, who was named the Daily Herald All-Area MVP and the 8-5A All-District MVP, averaged 18.3 points, nearly six assists and four rebounds per game while leading Ellison (29-7) to its first district championship since 2004 and a Region I-5A quarterfinal appearance this season.
“It feels great. I was stressing the whole season, didn’t really have much on the table,” Black said. “With me being the player that I am, I think I deserve much more, but it feels great — a lot of stress off my shoulders.”
Having mentored under current Indiana State redshirt freshman Devonte Brown his sophomore year on varsity, Black has shouldered much of the Ellison leadership role each of the last season. And while he wasn’t always comfortable with the responsibility, Black never faltered where it mattered — on the court — helping continue the Eagles’ 19-year playoff streak.
“He’s a great basketball player but an even better kid — MCC got a steal,” Jones said.