Nick Black is making contributions all over the court for Bowman this season.
The senior guard/forward has taken pride in one thing in particular, however.
“I’ve been trying to do better on defense,” Black said. “I’m not going to say I was bad on defense last year, but I wasn’t the best. I’ve been trying to tighten up my defense, both perimeter and inside, being able to switch off anybody on a screen.”
The 6-foot-5 Black’s efforts on defense have translated into production. He is averaging a team-high 1.9 blocked shots and 1.6 steals for the Eagles (9-9), and he has the ability to guard any position.
Black said he worked on his footwork, getting faster, quicker and stronger. But his physical development has been secondary in his progress.
“It’s just having the mentality to want to play defense and want to get better on that end of the floor, not just offense,” he said. “The thing that helped me the most was just locking in mentally on defense and trying to make that a big part of my game too.”
Indeed, Black has flourished in other areas. He is averaging 14.5 points and 9.6 rebounds, both team highs.
In fact, Black’s offensive prowess has most stood out to senior forward Tasean Gates.
“He’s a pure scorer,” Gates said. “Whenever we need a bucket, we count on him for it.”
Black put in the time on that end of the floor too.
“A lot of shooting,” he said. “I tried to really work on getting better going to the rim. It was probably easy to guard me at the rim last year, and I’m trying to make it hard, utilize my height more. Last year, I didn’t really utilize my height. I just went out there and played. This year, I’m utilizing my height more and seeing over the defense.”
Bowman coach Tyrone Robinson summed up Black’s importance to the Eagles, who are among the contenders in the Class 2A sectional they’re hosting.
“He’s the face of our team,” Robinson said.
It hasn’t been easy for Black to reach that point. After playing on the junior varsity team as a freshman, he earned a starting spot as a sophomore. But he took a step back last season, splitting his time between starting and coming off the bench. He averaged 6.5 points and 2.8 rebounds.
“It was an up and down year for me,” Black said. “I had some good games and some bad games. It was a confidence thing last year. I didn’t take as many shots as I should’ve. I was hesitant to take shots.”
Black was determined to bounce back.
“I just worked out consistently the whole summer,” he said. “I knew I had no other option. I had to come in and be good for the team — not just for me, but for the team too.
“Last year, it was tough mentally. But I never gave up. I kept working to get my spot back. I knew by the time senior year came, I was going to have to be a top player on the team. And now senior year, I’m leading the team.”
Black takes that role seriously.
“I talk a lot to my teammates on the court,” he said. “If they have any questions, they can ask me. They know I’m open and they can talk to me whenever they need to, even off the court. I can give them rides. Whenever they need me, they can call me.”
Robinson estimated Bowman played 35 games in June. He saw what Black did in those events and throughout the offseason.
“Hard work,” Robinson said. “He had a great summer. He stayed in the weight room. He did a lot of skill work. He played all summer. He did great in the team camps. He’s just really worked hard at it.
“He has the green light. He knows he’s the leader of this team. He holds himself accountable. He’s just been good for us. Since his freshman year to now, he’s improved tremendously.”