Blake Ahearn - Making Believers Of Doubters
Tulsa, Okla. • Oct. 18, 2011
No matter how many times he goes through it, the wait is never easy. Blake Ahearn made the first cut with one more to go before the 12-man Pan American Games roster is official. That will come later this week. In the meantime Ahearn will do what he’s done his whole career.
“This time is obviously a little different, but every time you step on the floor it’s almost a tryout because there’s always going to be somebody watching you and evaluating you,” Ahearn said after completing a practice session in Tulsa, Oklahoma. “It’s part of the business, but it makes it extra special when it’s for your country.”
Ahearn’s on the right track. The Heat and the Spurs have told him so after 15 games of NBA experience with the two clubs over two seasons.
“You can’t get too high and you can’t get too low. Expect the best and prepare for the worst,” the point guard out of Missouri State said. “I’ve had some great opportunities to have dreams come true. Sometimes those dreams have been broken. At the same time, going through all that stuff makes me tougher mentally on the floor and off the floor.”
Ahearn believes his toughness serves him particularly well as a floor general. He knows he can score. The trick is putting the ball in the hoop consistently in the flow of the offense, as well as doing whatever is needed defensively to make an impact.
The man, who finished his four years at Missouri State University as the NCAA career free throw percentage leader (94.6%) and ranked as the NCAA single-season leader (97.5%) in 2003-04, keeps meticulous records. Since fourth grade he’s charted every shot he has taken in individual workouts. He also remembers the doubters he has disproven along the way.
“They always said it would be nice to have a backup plan. I didn’t have a backup, so I knew I had to work. I was fortunate to play for two (NBA) teams, Miami and San Antonio, and I’m doing everything in my power to get back.”
His trip to Miami seems like it was yesterday.
“It was after practice. I was in Bismarck, North Dakota,” he recalls. “My coach called me in with my agent on the phone. He told me to pack my bags because I was going to Miami. It was a surreal feeling, very emotional as somebody who has been doubted my whole life.”
Ahearn earned a pair of 10-day contracts with the Heat in March 2008 before they signed him through the remainder of the year. Next season came a stint with San Antonio. That meant he had the opportunity to learn from two of the best coaches in the business, Pat Riley and Gregg Popovich, and their players. Ahearn continues to learn from their suggestions and says he is ready for another chance.
“Where I get that opportunity, I take advantage of it. That’s really what it comes down to, right spot, right time. Once I get it, I’ll be able to take care of it.”
He’s a little sore after the first few days at Pan American Games training camp, but all those memories have come in handy. One cut down, one to go.
No matter what happens the rest of this week, Ahearn will still keep fighting.
“My cousin has already called dibs on all the USA Basketball gear that I get to take back,” he said. “Apparently I am going to have to fight for it.”
Sounds like what he’s always done.
Blake Ahearn Bio Notes: Played 12 games with the NBA Miami Heat in March and April, 2008, averaged 5.8 ppg., 1.6 rpg., 1.6 apg. and made 30-of-31 free throws (.968). Also played three games in 2008-09 with the San Antonio Spurs and averaged 2.7 ppg. NBA D-League honors include 2008 Rookie of the Year; 2008 All-NBA D-League second team; 2009 NBA D-League All-Star Game co-MVP; 2009 All D-League first team; 2011 Gatorade All-D-League honorable mention. Was traded in March 2010 to Erie Bayhawks and in 13 games averaged 25.7 ppg., 4.5 rpg., 6.7 apg, and shot 44.0 percent from 3-point and 96.0 percent from the foul line. Joined the Bakersfield Jam in Jan. 2010 and in 17 games averaged 14.3 ppg., 3.9 apg., and shot 93.2 percent from the foul line. Attended Missouri State University and played four seasons.Finished four years as the NCAA career leader (.946%) and single-season (.975%) free throw percentage record holder. Holds Missouri State career record for made 3-pointers (276). Played his high school basketball at DeSmet Jesuit in St. Louis, Missouri.