A saintly example set by E-Comm grad

GENTLEMAN OF THE COURT: Aaron Best, seen here in the “Mag 7” t-shirt he designed for the Saints, took the helm and led his senior boys basketball team to OFSAA.

Mom and grandma a big influence in Aaron Best’s game

Aaron Best has been exemplary in making basketball a gentlemanly sport at Eastern Commerce.

And that’s all because of the ladies — specifically his mom Donna and grandma Eleanor — who have been very influential in shaping the man he is today.

“Words can’t describe it,” Best said. “Those two are like a tag team that take care of me, support me.

“They’ve been there since day one and whichever direction I wanted to go in, they were right there.”

This season was one that saw Best rise to captain of the Saints basketball team. After transferring from Sir Oliver Mowat in his grade 11 year to play with E-Comm’s coach at the time, Roy Rana, he has matured into a strong leader, current coach Kevin Jeffers said.

“He had a lot of potential to be a good player and it all depended on how hard he was willing to work for it,” he said. “Everything came to fruition this year and he turned into the man that we knew he could be.”

Leading the team in every category, save for three-point shooting, did not come without its challenges.

Eastern Commerce started the season with a 25-man roster, but due to academics and other issues the team was whittled down to just seven.

Those players were dubbed the Magnificent Seven by one of the Saints coaching staff, and Best was that veteran filling the role of Yul Brynner.

“It wasn’t really hard and it was a great group of guys, they were willing to take instruction from me,” he said. “That made it a lot easier.”

Jeffers observed some reluctance in his star at first but then they had a heart-to-heart talk in which they were both candid.

“As a coach, as a person, I said, ‘I need you to be that leader when I’m not there, so how can our relationship be better’, and he just said, ‘If you pull me aside once in a while, I appreciate that,’ ” Jeffers said.

“From there on we were golden.”

In honour of the Saints’ new title, Best along with his mom came up with the idea of making t-shirts with “Mag 7” written on them.

“Aaron and I were talking about it and we just sort of threw some ideas around and he said, ‘You know what, mom, we should make some t-shirts,” Donna Best said. “He came up with this logo that said, ‘Mag 7’ and then I said that looks really awesome.”

Donning their personalized jerseys the team took to the court against rivals Oakwood, an experience Aaron Best will never forget.

“Every single game is a battle,” he said. “Personally I think it’s one of the best rivalries I’ve every had the chance to be a part of.

“There’s always a lot of fan support, it keeps the players going and your adrenaline is pumping,” he added. “You forget about fatigue and you’re just going at it.”

It’s that hometown support that is keeping him in Toronto for his post-secondary career in business at Ryerson.

His first E-Comm coach, Rana, is now at the helm of the Rams basketball squad, which was one reason why turning down American universities was easy.

“Personally I think we have universities in Canada that are just as good, if not some better than the States,” Best said. “It is nice to get your chance to play Division 1 basketball, everyone has that dream, but there are certain things that prevent you from doing that.”

Donna Best couldn’t be happier.

“His support system is pretty strong,” she said. “I think it’s good for Canadian basketball as well because we have to do what we can for our Canadian basketball and our kids.

“I think this is the beginning of something good.”

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