Ojai Black spent his first season on varsity learning from one of Ellison’s most prolific players in Devonte Brown.
As the lone returning starter the next year, Black was thrust into a leadership role he wasn’t yet ready for.
But as a senior, the 6-foot-1 Eagles scoring guard was able to embrace his position as the team’s unquestioned leader and carried Ellison to its first district championship since 2004.
“I kinda wasn’t comfortable with it (last year), but I tried my best, and this year (the coaches) got on me hard before the season started ... they told me they needed a leader if we were going to go far,” Black said. “So I took it upon myself to work hard and try to be that leader we needed to win.”
Black was selected as the District 8-5A Most Valuable Player when the district awards were announced Wednesday, a day after Ellison (29-7) suffered a heartbreaking 45-44 loss to No. 4 South Grand Prairie in the Region I-5A quarterfinals at Corsicana to end the Eagles’ 19th consecutive playoff run.
“I’m a team player, I love winning and if winning MVP comes with that, that’s a bonus,” said Black, who averaged a team-high 18 points per game.
“(Black) did a lot of stuff that didn’t show up on the scoreboard, and by (the other coaches) voting for him in such high numbers shows that everyone else kind of noticed that and appreciated what he did for his team,” said Ellison head coach Alberto Jones, who was also named 8-5A coach of the year. “He was one of the best players I’ve (ever) had ... at getting (other) players the ball where they needed the ball at. He probably could find Malik (Hawkins) with his eyes closed and get him the ball.”
Copperas Cove senior guard Cory Scott was crowned the district’s Offensive Player of the Year after leading 8-5A in scoring with 24.3 points per game for the season and 22.6 during district, carrying the Bulldawgs (20-12) to their first playoff berth since 2008.
“I was expecting him to get the MVP or offensive MVP because he is that caliber of player,” Cove head coach Billy White Jr. said. “So, as for the type of player he is in our district, you’d definitely have to put him as one of the top players.”
Scott, who signed with Stephen F. Austin, also topped the 1,500-point plateau for his career this season. He averaged nearly 25 points per game during the Bulldawgs’ season-ending four-game win streak that included a 33-point performance in a 73-72 overtime victory over Shoemaker in the regular-season finale, that secured the No. 4 seed for Cove.
Shoemaker senior forward Sean Causey was named 8-5A Defensive Player of the Year, giving the Grey Wolves the district’s top defender each of the past two seasons after Chris Runnels won the honor last season.
“Sean was just a real good off-the-ball defender for us and we usually put him on the other team’s best scorer pretty much the entire season,” Shoemaker coach Marc Minatrea said. “He worked hard and made himself a really good defender and I thought he earned the award.”
Harker Heights’ 6-foot-5 sophomore post Celneque Bobbitt II was named Newcomer of the Year after splashing onto the district scene this season following a stint on JV as a freshman. Bobbitt II, the son of Knights head coach Celneque Bobbitt, instantly became a key piece to Heights offense, averaging 10.5 points per game and 5.4 rebounds per game, and led the team with 59-percent field-goal shooting.
Despite his age, Bobbitt II said being one of the starters felt natural.
“It wasn’t nothing, I just took it as the best players were going to be (starting) so I guess I was one of them,” Bobbitt II said.
Bobbitt was joined on the first team by Knight junior guards Cameron (12.75 pts/game, 5.2 rebounds, 79.9 percent from FT) and Josh Delaney (10.75 pts/game, 4.3 assists/game, who shepherded the Heights offense in their second year on varsity.
Also on the first team were Ellison senior sharpshooter Malik Hawkins, Killeen’s 6-2 junior wing Brian Long and Shoemaker senior guard Paris Yerry.