Nothing makes you concentrate and focus on what’s important more than losing something you were proud to have won.
That’s part of what has fueled Nabil Rurangirwa, the 6-9, 195-pound center for Keller Timber Creek, this season.
He started for the Falcons last season, but then found himself watching more than playing when adjustments were made in the second half of the season.
Now he’s taken the lesson to heart and has dedicated himself to going all-out every chance he gets. The result is Rurangirwa leading the Falcons in scoring as well as garnering rebounds and blocked shots.
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“It was a learning experience,” he said of losing his starting spot on last year’s club. “It’s made me trust myself more. I push more and work harder in practice.”
Timber Creek head coach Brad Mouser said the extra year of maturity and skill development has helped immensely.
“It’s part of the maturation process. He started about 90 percent of the time but his skills, physicality and mental preparation have prepared him for the number of minutes he’s playing,” Mouser said.
The real test arrives along with the start of the district schedule in 3-6A.
It was a learning experience. It’s made me trust myself more. I push more and work harder in practice.
Nabil Rurangirwa on losing his starting spot last season
The Rwandan-born Rurangirwa knows that his continued aggressive style will have to be ratcheted-up a notch.
“I wasn’t aggressive last year. I was laid back,” he said. “Going into district, I have to be more aggressive in the paint. Most of the teams have bigger guys.”
Bigger, maybe, but not taller.
But Rurangirwa said it wasn’t until he hit seventh grade that he went from “average size” to hitting a growth spurt. He hit 6-0 that summer and was 6-3 in eighth grade.
Now Rurangirwa is hard to miss on the floor and, in fact, Timber Creek will look for him often.
His good movement complements his size, and his teammates will work to get the ball to him.
“It’s a big turnaround from last year. We wouldn’t play through me,” he said. “This year, I need to get a touch each possession.”
Rurangirwa can score but he’s also suited to survey the floor and create plays for others. He’s scoring close to 20 points per game with nearly 10 rebounds. He led the Falcons with 25 points against Southlake Carroll earlier this month.
Mouser said teams are now forced to pick their poison.
“At 6-9, people have to decide if they want to guard him,” Mouser said. “If they want to guard him, our perimeter opens up and we let them shoot. This year, we have good shooters all around him.”
Beneficiaries of the decision to guard Rurangirwa are Jimmy Mouser, Alec Tribble and Jack Damon.
And he doesn’t mind being vocal to help make it all happen. Rurangirwa said he’s very vocal, on and off the court.
“I’m always the one joking and talking in games,” he admitted.
He uses the tendency to be vocal to help serve as a leader on a team with eight other seniors.
As a senior, Rurangirwa will look to fulfill a goal by earning an offer to play at the next level.
Although he’s had conversations with a few schools, Rurangirwa is awaiting offers to evaluate his college plans.
He said he’d prefer to stay close to home in Texas, but is open to consider out-of-state schools, including his dream school, Michigan.
Although born and raised in Rwanda until the age of 9, Rurangirwa lived in Michigan until his family’s move to Texas to begin his freshman year.