Ojai Black, senior guard, realized while playing in his final season that all his blood, sweat and tears were well worth his accomplished as a Texas State basketball player.
Coming from McLennan Community College, Black did not find his fit right away. After preparation and building his confidence, the Killeen native went from averaging 1.3 points per game with 0.7 assists to 8 points per game and 4 assists.
“I had to mature, develop and become a smarter basketball player,” Black said.
With over 140 assists in one season, Black earned himself a top ten spot in the program’s history.
With two seasons at Texas State under his belt, it was only right for the senior to step up and take a leadership role on the team.
Black accepted the challenge and has helped lead the team during the season, the Sun Belt Conference Tournament and the CollegeInsider.com Postseason Tournament.
Head Coach Danny Kaspar continually calls Black an outstanding leader and defensive player.
“Coming from him, that is great, because he has been doing this for a long time,” Black said. “It is an honor to hear that out of Coach Kaspar’s mouth.”
Black is used to being underestimated by others, and it is what has motivated him throughout the season. When Texas State was voted to finish last in the conference, it did not sit well with him.
“When I saw that we were picked 12th, I felt disrespected,” Black said. “I took that to heart, and realized that we were going to have to work hard to prove them wrong.”
It looked a little shaky in the beginning, but Black held faith in the team. He had no idea that they would go so far into the postseason. Believing in himself and everyone else was the key.
“We did not have a picture of what we were going to look like early on,” Black said. “January rolled around and everything just began to click. We knew we could do something special, but I had no clue how special.”
With the underclassmen taking over when he leaves, Black has great expectations. Along with the rest of the team, Black has helped create a new tone for the Bobcats and the upcoming seasons.
“For sure we set a new tone, considering the shape the program was previously in, and how it has turned in one year,” Black said. “I feel like we set a great example for the new guys, so they will be okay.”
He is looking for teammates like Nijal Pearson, freshman guard, Nedeljko Prijovic, freshman forward, and Marlin Davis, freshman guard, to step up as leaders due to experience they were able to gain this season.
“Of course Pearson, Prijovic, and Davis, considering they are the ones who have played the most out of the new guys,” Black said. “They just have to work hard and buy into what Kaspar is selling.”
Black summed up his entire Texas State experience in a few words: perseverance, determination and hard work.
The health and fitness management major will graduate this fall with hopes of taking his basketball career to the next level.