By Andrew Freshkorn
The idea of a “freshman phenom” in sports is a very rare situation.
It is hard to come by a young athlete who possesses both the physical and mental tools to compete so well at the collegiate level against much older, more experienced athletes.
However, freshman women’s basketball player, Jordan Holmes possesses these capabilities and more.
At the collegiate level, younger athletes usually wait their turn to play, growing and learning from older players and the coaching staff until it becomes their time to take the reins and lead the team. However, each year programs across the country see a talented freshman or two come out on to the hardwood and make an immediate impact.
Holmes, a native to Pittsburgh, PA, has appeared in all twenty games for the Big Red thus far, and her numbers indicate a player with experience far beyond her years.
Holmes averages nearly a double-double each game, with 9.9 points per game and 14.3 rebounds also per game. The freshman averages 63.3% from the field and 52.9% from the free throw line. Holmes also logs 32.4 minutes of playing time a night, with that number rising up to 34.0 during conference play.
When asked about her success, she was shocked.
“I never imaged in a million years that I would be starting as a freshman in college, let alone breaking records already,” Holmes said. “I am just continuing to play the way I did in high school.”
She notched her first collegiate triple-double in her sixth game as a member of the Big Red on Nov. 30 where she recorded 10 points, 20 rebounds and 11 blocked shots in an 85-45 home rout of Muskingum University.
Her 20 rebounds were the most in a single game since 2001, when former player Laci Ford brought down 21, and her 11 blocks were a new Denison and North Coast Athletic Conference single-game record.
Holmes’ triple-double was only the second one recorded in the history of Denison’s women’s basketball, next to Cristi Clay, who recorded a quadruple-double in 1991.
Her list of accomplishments doesn’t stop there.
On Jan. 29 in a loss to DePauw, the number one team in the country, Holmes set another Denison and North Coast Athletic Conference record for blocks in a season with 110, breaking the conference record previously held by former Denison standout Kristen Sheffield (106.) Holmes has also recieved two Conference Player of the Week awards, while helping lead the Big Red to a 15-5 overall (7-4 NCAC) record, good enough to forge a tie for third place in the conference with the Kenyon Lords. There are five games remaining in the season, along with the NCAC tournament.
Despite all of her individual successes, she credited her teammates for their effect on her game.
“In the beginning of the season I was completely terrified and had no idea what to expect, but my teammates have really helped me to come out of my shell both on and off the court,” she said. “The seniors have played a pivotal role in the way I play.”
Unlike larger programs, Denison and other Division III schools typically don’t follow the “one and done” trend where players leave after a season of play to pursue a professional career. So that means the Big Red community should get used to the idea of #44 wreaking havoc across NCAC basketball courts for three more years.
But even if she could leave Denison to pursue a professional basketball career, don’t expect her name to be running across draft boards any time in the near future.
“Even if I was good enough, I wouldn’t ever want to play in the WNBA because I look at basketball as a fun stress reliever, not as a job,” Holmes said. “I would never want to experience the pressure of a professional sport because it would no longer be fun anymore, and I probably would end up hating the sport.”
Spoken like a true lover of the game.