Holman ready to showcase skills on court

Holman was third in Big Ten conference games last season with 1.62 blocks per game

Anthony Maggio

Jerry Holman is at a crossroads.

The 6-foot-10 Minnesota center has steadily improved during his college career at Minneapolis Community and Technical College and last season with the Gophers. But this year, his senior season, is pivotal for Minnesota’s lanky pivot man.

Holman’s future in basketball rests upon what he accomplishes this season. After sitting out last week’s exhibition game for violating team rules, Holman starts his season Friday against Team Nike at 1 p.m. on Sunday at Williams Arena.

“He’s certainly someone that most NBA teams are fully aware of, and they’ll all be taking a look at him and see how he develops this year,” said Rob Babcock, director of player personnel with the Minnesota Timberwolves.

Babcock has watched Holman develop since his days at MCTC and expects Holman, 22, will continue to improve on his tremendous potential.

But the biggest question mark surrounding Holman is his weight.

Holman said he added six to seven pounds over the summer, but his lanky frame is still a slender 225 pounds. He has, however, gained strength.

“He’s going to gain strength before he gains weight,” coach Dan Monson said. “I think he’s done that this year; he’s substantially stronger. I don’t think he’s gained as much weight as he’ll probably need for the future, but that usually comes to kids as they get to be 24 or 25 years old.”

Other than his size, Holman must continue to improve on what he does best – rebound, play defense and block shots.

Holman was third in the Big Ten in conference games last season with 1.62 blocks per game. He also led the team in field goal percentage last season at .554.

But Holman will be the first to tell you he’s not here to score points.

“I really don’t care for points,” Holman said. “Anything I need to do to make my team happy is what I’m willing to do.”

It just so happens that what his team needs him to do is what NBA scouts want to see.

“I think Jerry’s got a tremendous amount of potential,” Babcock said. “But he’s got a lot of developing to do. I’ve been watching him since junior college and each year has made major strides in his game. But he still has a ways to go, especially for considerations in the NBA.”

The good thing is Holman expects much more out of himself this season with a year at Minnesota under his belt.

Last season, Holman had to make the transition between junior college and Big Ten basketball while learning to play under new coaches and a new system.

This season, he knows what to expect and can hit the ground running.

“I came in not knowing how the Big Ten was going to be,” Holman said. “Everyone was telling me it was going to be more physical and a lot faster, and that’s pretty much all I knew until I got into a real game, a real-life situation and saw how it really was. It made me realize how hard I was going to have to work throughout the summer.”

Holman worked diligently in the weight room and the classroom this summer and continues to work toward his goals.

Although he wants to have a future in basketball, his sights are currently set on graduation.

“In junior college, it started off as me just wanting to play basketball and get paid,” Holman said. “But as I started maturing, I realized that that’s not the only thing I want to do. I want to graduate because you never know what you’re going to do in the future after basketball. I do want a future in basketball, whether it’s in the NBA or overseas. But my main goal is to graduate.”

Anthony Maggio covers men’s basketball and welcomes comments at [email protected]