Last summer, Ojai Black received a text from Ellison head coach Alberto Jones: “If you work hard and come in and do what you’re capable of, I guarantee you’ll win MVP.”
The 6-foot-1 guard used that little bit of motivation to carry him throughout his final high school season, achieving nearly every goal he set for himself and the Eagles.
Jones’ declaration proved prophetic as Black was named the Daily Herald’s 2013 All-Area Most Valuable Player after leading Ellison (29-7) to its first district championship since 2004 and a Region I-5A quarterfinal appearance.
“I just (stood) out, and I’m very honored to be the MVP. … I worked very, very hard for it,” said Black, who also was selected as the District 8-5A MVP after averaging 18.3 points, nearly six assists and four rebounds per game as Ellison’s unquestioned captain on a team full of seniors.
“Coming into my senior year, that’s what everybody expected from me,” Black said. “I was a sophomore on varsity and then my junior year they wanted me to take on a leader role and I kinda wasn’t comfortable (with that) but I tried my best. But this year I put it in my mind that I’d be that leader we needed to win.”
Despite a handful of setbacks, including a buzzer-beating 60-58 loss to rival Shoemaker for a share of the district lead with two games remaining, the Eagles earned the program’s 19th consecutive playoff appearance as outright 8-5A champions.
Once in the playoffs, Black fueled Ellison with his unselfish offensive approach, often distributing to teammates before taking it in himself as Ellison edged Duncanville and Flower Mound before a heartbreaking 45-44 loss to No. 4 South Grand Prairie in the Region I-5A quarterfinals in Corsicana.
“We came in and did what we had to do to win district, and then we made a big playoff run, and all that came with a lot of hard work and dedication by a lot of guys,” Black said.
Austin Adams, Salado, sr., post
Named the District 22-2A co-MVP, Adams was a stabilizing force for the Eagles, leading Salado by averaging 16 points and 8.1 rebounds per game with a team-high 44.8 field-goal percentage.
Malik Hawkins, Ellison, sr., guard
A deadly sharpshooter from deep, Hawkins was a first-team All-District 8-5A selection after averaging 15.2 points, 5.2 rebounds and two assists per game.
Brian Long, Killeen, jr., forward
Since the graduation of TaShawn Thomas (Houston) two years ago, Long has emerged as the Runnin’ Roos go-to play-maker. The District 8-5A all-district first-team selection averaged 17.8 points, 6.8 rebounds and 1.3 assists per game this season.
Cory Scott, Copperas Cove, sr., guard
The Offensive MVP of 8-5A capped off his high school career by leading Copperas Cove back to the playoffs for the first time since 2008. Along the way, the Stephen F. Austin commit averaged 24.3 points per game for the season.
Brandon Womac, Salado, r., forward
The co-Offensive MVP from District 22-2A, Womac’s fearlessness with the ball in his hand often sparked the Eagles offensively, as he averaged 15 points, 6.1 rebounds and 3.2 steals per game.
COACH OF THE YEAR
Kenny Mann, Salado
Early in the season, Mann realized how talented a team he had when it seemed like every game had a different leading scorer. So, given his cache of weapons, Mann began calling the Eagles’ squad an “arsenal” and the nickname took off.
But this arsenal wasn’t short of firepower, as Salado (28-9) put together a season for the ages, tying a school record for wins, finishing tied for the District 22-2A championship with Jarrell and advanced to the Region III-2A semifinal, where the Eagles fell to eventual state champ White Oak in Nacogdoches.
NEWCOMER OF THE YEAR
Celneque Bobbitt II, Harker Heights, soph., post
As the son of the Knights’ head coach, sharing in both name and frame, Bobbitt constantly felt he had to prove himself.
“There was pressure on me just to show the guys that were starting there already … that I belong here, that I’m going to be here for awhile and I’m going to be a contributor to this team,” Bobbitt said.
Of course, it didn’t take long for the 6-foot-5 Bobbitt to prove himself, ultimately earning District 8-5A newcomer of the year after averaging 10.5 points and 5.4 rebounds per game and leading the Knights (23-9) with 59 percent field-goal shooting.
With just one senior in its starting lineup, Bobbitt leads a strong contingent of returners that should make Heights a serious contender next season.
“We should be a great team now that we already got the scars — we were the young team and now we’ll be the big team on the block,” Bobbitt said.
- Cameron Delaney, jr., guard, Harker Heights
- Daniel Mills, sr., forward, Belton
- Tobias Moore, sr., post, Gatesville
- Rashard Odomes, soph., forward. Copperas Cove
- Paris Yerry, sr., guard, Shoemaker