Coastal Carolina lost two of their top three leading scorers from a season ago on a team that finished with a 28-7 record. South Carolina transfer Mike Holmes (who would later be suspended from the team indefinitely) was expected to join the 2009-10 leading scorer Chad Gray (a former South Carolina transfer himself) in the scoring ranks for the Chanticleers as he was tabbed by many sources as preseason newcomer of the year. However, 6’4” junior college guard Desmond Holloway had other thoughts.
Holloway, an Indianapolis, IN native who spent his first two collegiate seasons playing at Wabash Valley College for Hall of Fame coach Dan Sparks, was a First Team All-Region 24 selection last season playing in a conference with better than 20 Division-I players including three players who are currently playing in the Pac Ten Conference. He averaged 18.1 points, 4.3 rebounds, 2 assists, and 1.8 steals while shooting 50% from the field, 36% from three, and 83% from the charity stripe.
Though he was recruited by the likes of schools such as Oklahoma State and Oregon State along with some very successful mid major programs like Wichita State and Murray State he winded up choosing Coastal Carolina, a program that has been successful in recent years but one that is not really known outside of the Big South Conference.
In a lot of college programs junior college players have trouble adjusting to the more structured offenses at the Division-I level. However, with well-respected coach Cliff Ellis’ free flowing offense Holloway has been able to adjust rather easily as evident by his 24 point, 9 rebound Division-I debut against College of Charleston.
Since his start Desmond has averaged 18.5 points, 6.9 rebounds, and nearly 2 assists per game while leading the Chanticleers in 16 of their 27 contests (has only played in 26 games). He’s also scored double figures in all but one game (9 points in a win at Winthrop). He was instrumental in CCU’s 78-69 win over LSU (18 points, 7 rebounds) and was their biggest offensive threat in their 22 game win streak, recently ended at the hands of Gardner Webb. A shoe-in for Big South Conference Newcomer of the Year, there’s a good likeliness that Holloway could earn the Player of the Year title in his league.
So what makes Desmond so good?
At 6’4” 170 lbs Desmond is a lengthy, sleek scoring guard that has the height and versatility to play both wing slots in the Big South. He understands how to score and does it well from just about everywhere on the floor. An adequate ball handler, it is hard to take the ball from Holloway off the bounce due to his length. He’s good at stepping one way and using a quick crossover to beat opponents for the midrange pull up. He’s also an above-average three point shooter. His best scoring asset, however, may be his ability to attack the rim and draw contact from defenders. He’s attempted 173 free throws, by far and wide the most on his team (next highest is 97 FTA) and has made 132 for a shooting clip of 73%.
One major difference between Desmond and other scorers at the college level is his relentless to score the basketball. Each possession he takes it as a personal challenge to be able to get a good shot on his defender. In addition, he has great confidence in his ability to put the ball in the basket so even when he’s on a scoring drought he’s still a threat to go on a scoring streak at any given time. He never hangs his head. Though continuing to improve his shot selection Holloway has done a very good job at being an efficient scorer as he shoots over 50% from the field and over 35% from three.
Desmond is affective on the glass as well, both offensively and defensively. He’s bigger than most low or mid major guards and uses his length to his advantage. It also helps him when it comes to defending the perimeter as he is able to pickpocket bigger guards and stay in front of smaller, quicker guards by giving them room and still being able to close out and challenge their shots.
Is Holloway perfect? No there’s still work that needs to be done. His ball handling and passing could use improvement, he has more turnovers than assists on the season, and at 6’4” he’s awfully frail at 170 lbs. However, fact is that he has an offensive game that the Big South Conference hasn’t seen since the graduation of Reggie Williams, another 6’4” prolific scoring guard that went undrafted out of VMI in 2008 but is currently playing big minutes with the Golden State Warriors.
With three games left in the season Desmond is looking to lead the Chanticleers to the Big South Conference Tournament with three more wins tacked on to their 24-3 record. If they do not win the conference tournament there’s still a slim opportunity for them to earn an at large bid with their nearly flawless resume but surely they do not want to leave it up to chance.
Look to continue to hear about Holloway and CCU’s successes throughout the post season and next season.