For Norman Black, his son Aaron made a good decision in foregoing his final playing year in Ateneo, since it gave the latter an opportunity to grow as a player outside of the Blue Eagles’ nest.
Many expected Aaron to play his fifth and final year of eligibility, but he declined the option. He declared it via social media in January of last year — shortly after winning his second UAAP gold medal.
“I was happy that Aaron decided to forego his last year in college.
“It also gave him a chance to get out and play — you can’t really develop if you don’t play,” the multi-decorated coach said in the Hoop Coaches International Webinar hosted by the Blackwater Elite last week.
The younger Black, a former member of Batang Gilas, was indeed able to spread his wings after leaving Katipunan. He has since taken part in various tournaments not just here, but overseas as well.
He was part of the loaded Mighty Sports crew that swept its way to the 2019 William Jones Cup crown, which gave the Philippines its sixth title in the annual tournament held in Taiwan.
“I was happy with the fact that he joined Mighty Sports team in the Jones Cup. They won the championship there,. He wasn’t a key player on that team, but he did have his moments,” Norman said.
Aaron then took his act to the Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League, where he played for the Quezon City Capitals before he got shipped to the Zamboanga Family’s Brand Sardines.
The 6-foot-1 guard posted solid numbers with the Capitals, with averages of 11.8 points, 7.4 rebounds, and 5.4 assists.
“I was happy that he joined the MPBL because let’s face it. That’s a very physical league,” Norman said.
“It makes a man of you immediately. They call the game a little bit different there, and they allow a lot more contact so he got used to having to play physical to be able to survive in that league.”
Aaron actually did double duties during his time with QC, also playing with AMA Online Education in the PBA D-League Foundation Cup. And there, he impressed with his all-around play.
He put up per-game norms of 25.2 points in 44 percent shooting, 12.3 rebounds, 10.3 assists, and 1.5 steals for the Titans in a memorable stint that saw him notch three triple-doubles.
“I was happy that he joined the D-League, where he actually played very, very well,” expressed the elder Black.
For the former Ateneo mentor, those stints Aaron had in the MPBL and D-League convinced him that his son already has what it takes to take his act to the next level — the PBA, that is.
“If I had based on what he did in Ateneo in his senior year, then I would’ve never told him to go into the draft [last year] because he did not play very much,” the five-time UAAP champion coach said.
“But when I watched him in the D-League and I watched him in the MPBL, I felt he was ready for the pros already.”
So, Aaron declared himself eligible for the 2019 PBA Draft, and he was eventually picked by coach Norman’s team Meralco Bolts to highlight the second round of the proceedings.
For the Grand Slam-winning bench tactician, Aaron brings versatility to the table, like what his players such as Chris Newsome and incoming sophomore Bong Quinto have been providing.
“I know that my success with Chris Newsome and my success this past year with Bong Quinto has shown me the importance of having guys that do more than one thing,” he said.
“Guys that can score the basketball, who can pass the basketball, who can rebound the basketball… Guys who give you a lot more flexibility because of their versatility. And I think Aaron brings that.”
Moreover, the 62-year-old said that Aaron — whom the team signed to a one-year deal last March — could help in his aim of making the Orangemen play a much faster pace than before.
“In addition to that, he’s a push guy. Aaron’s better when he has the ball in his hands and then he can push the ball down the court. He’s not gonna be as good in the slow-down games so hopefully, he’ll be able to help us in that area because we have not been able to run very much in the last few years,” he said.
“We’re more of a halfcourt team, a slow-down team, and I would like us to turn into more of a running team.”