Aaron Larson had quite an interesting summer leading up to his new coaching job. After graduating he was drafted by Coach Yves DeFraigne of Bellius Mons-Hainaut in Belgium to attend the Worldwide Invitational Basketball camp at University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Larson then traveled to Vegas and played in four games for Bellius Mons-Hainaut from July 10th through the 12th. After the games he began to receive a few contract offers to play professionally overseas; however, none of the proposals were to his liking.
“It was either the money wasn’t right but it was in the right place,” said Larson, “Or the money was good, but it was in the wrong place. For instance, one of the offers was in Saudi Arabia. I also got an offer from Mexico and one from Spain.”
“It’s pretty disappointing looking at it from the outside in,” said Coach Ralph Hodge, Larson’s former coach at ONU, “I’m pretty biased, but I think that [Larson] could be a great addition to a professional team. All he needs is an opportunity, and we do not know how high he could go with this. I’m really surprised that he hasn’t got that opportunity.”
About two weeks ago, Chase Deaton, the former GA for ONU’s women’s basketball team, contacted Larson and asked him if he was interested in becoming the new GA for the team.
“At that point, contracts weren’t rolling in,” said Larson, “I was having a hard time getting people to offer. So I figured that this could be an option for me.”
After a few meetings between the two, Coach Stamatis offered Larson the job on Aug. 25, 2016. He will be scouting other teams, running the practice squad of male students who play against the team, and performing administrative duties.
“I’m very excited about it,” said Larson, “It’ll be a good opportunity for me to learn. I’ve been working with, playing against, and leading guys’ programs for years. This will be a great chance to get a new perspective. Interacting with and being able to have a positive impact on some of these girls’ lives is the biggest thing to me.”
“From a recruiting standpoint, having been a student here and having played basketball here, Larson has an awesome opportunity to be able to share that with perspective athletes. Basketball wise, we know he was an incredibly hard worker and has a high basketball IQ. He’ll be able to help our girls with some individual skill and provide a different perspective to our Tigerball style,” Stamatis said.
ONU’s Lady Tigers just came off a 29-win season and a trip to the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics’ (NAIA) quarterfinals, during which they led the nation in points scored per game, averaging 109.2 points per game. Although they graduated three seniors, including Abby Hengesbach, the 2015-16 NAIA Player of the Year for Women’s Basketball Division II. Of the 17 players on the Tiger’s roster for the coming season, 13 are returning from last year’s team.
“Going into this, my drive is to become a better coach, and then ultimately become an athletic director. For the longest time I thought that I wanted to be on the marketing side. But more recently, I have thought that I have wanted to work more with the athletes. So I started to think of positions that could do that, and an athletic director is a perfect opportunity to do that,” Larson said.
— Sam Nichols, Staff Writer