It may have taken Ojai Black a couple of seasons to grow into the unquestioned leader of the Ellison Eagles, but when he did, he helped the basketball team reach new heights.

Coach Alberto Jones told Black the Eagles would go as far as Black could take them and it was time to step up.

“Everything sunk in after we won our first-round playoff game,” Black said. “I thought we could really do something special.”

Black concluded his prep career with a season in which he was named the Killeen Daily Herald’s All-Area MVP after leading Ellison (29-7) to its first district championship since 2004 and a Region I-5A quarterfinal appearance.

For Jones, the season was years in the making.

“In his junior year we gave him the keys to the (Mercedes) Benz and he wasn’t ready to handle it yet, but he tried,” Jones said. “We saw how he evolved into a leader his senior year.”

Black’s leadership was so integral to the Eagles that despite graduating last spring, his voice still rings out.

“When I’m trying to get a couple of kids going, I’ll tell OJ to give that kid a call,” Jones said. “It’s one thing when a coach tells you to do something, but it’s another thing when a guy that was in your position a year ago talks — it means a little bit more.”

Black is a guard on the McLennan Community College men’s basketball team. The freshman is averaging 4.6 points and a team-best 3.1 assists through 15 games. He started nine games and averages 21.4 minutes per game.

Contact Albert Alvarado at alvarado@kdhnews.com

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