Holman brings athletic presence to the paint

by Anthony Maggio

Three years ago, Jerry Holman was an unknown. He was attending Minneapolis Community and Technical College and playing basketball under head coach Jay Pivec.

After his freshman year, Holman attended Jerry Mullin’s Roundball Review, a junior college camp held at Oral Roberts University in Tulsa, Okla., and a must-stop for Division I recruiters.

Holman thoroughly impressed scouts, leaving the camp rated No. 1 among junior college players in the nation. He was instantly recruited by all the top Division I schools in the nation.

Fortunately for Minnesota, Holman did not want to play for anyone else.

“It was the easiest recruiting job that the University of Minnesota has had in the last 50 years,” Pivec said.

Along with Gopher recruits Maurice Hargrow and Rick Rickert, Holman is competing in the Howard Pulley Pro-Am summer league to prepare himself for the upcoming season. With only two years of eligibility at Minnesota, Holman is hoping to develop as quickly as possible.

“It’s helping me a lot,” Holman said. “It’s helping me improve my game, get a little stronger and know what Division I competitive play is about.”

The 6-foot-11, 220-pound Holman is extremely athletic and is known as a force in the paint. In his final season at MCTC, Holman blocked an average of just under eight shots per game, leading his team to a 28-1 record.

The Gophers are confident Holman will bring the same down-low dominance with him to the next level.

“Jerry brings to the table a true presence inside that we haven’t had,” head coach Dan Monson said. “He’s very long and quick off the ground around the basket. He can get those rebounds that aren’t right to him. He can block shots from the weak side when guys aren’t right around him. He’s able to finish and run the court at 6-foot-11 like probably no one we’ve had. He’s a very good athlete for his size.” The slender forward boasts a repertoire of speed, agility and leaping ability. But to bang with Big Ten caliber pivot men, Holman will have to add some weight before the season begins.

Between working out with the team and playing in the Howard Pulley league, Holman believes he’s progressing well. Nevertheless, he’s continuing his hard work to be ready for the start of the season.

“I probably won’t be physically ready,” Holman said. “It’s going to take time. I just have to get stronger, that’s my weakness. Once I get stronger then I’ll be all right.”

Holman also brings a positive attitude to the floor. His winning ways in junior college reflect his desire and potential to be a leader.

“He’s a winner,” Monson said. “He’s a very competitive kid. I think it’s hard for junior college kids to come in and be leaders because they are new on the team. But if any kid can do it, Jerry can. He knows our guys very well and he has that make-up in his personality that is one of a leader.”

The versatility Holman supplies to the Gophers frontcourt is much needed. He’ll add roster depth not seen in Monson’s previous two campaigns.

Gophers senior Dusty Rychart looks forward to the addition of new post players in the lineup.

“It’s definitely going to bring a lot of competition,” Rychart said, “not only during games, but also at practice. I think it’s going to make us better as a team.”

Everyone in the basketball program expects Holman to have an immediate impact, including himself. Pivec said Holman could turn out to be the best performer among the new recruits.

In the meantime, Holman is just having fun and looking forward to playing this season.

“I’m having a lovely time,” Holman said. “I can’t wait, to be honest. I can’t wait to get on the court and start sweating again.”


Anthony Maggio welcomes comments at [email protected]