Laidback assassin: An inside look at Reggie Holmes, Morgan's sharpshooter

(Brian Krista, b )
March 09, 2010|by Matt Vensel | | b free daily

Reggie Holmes likes to say he cares only about winning, because if the W's pile up, the individual accolades will take care of themselves.

What may seem like a canned quote belies the fact that he really means it.

But the senior guard realized the magnitude of the moment as a silky-smooth two-pointer Thursday night solidified his place in Morgan State hoops history. The basket, which came late in the second half of the Bears' 74-54 victory over Coppin State, pushed the 22-year-old Cherry Hill native past the late Marvin Webster, a Baltimore legend, to become the school's all-time leading scorer.

"Breaking that record, it feels good," said Holmes, who finished with 36 points. "Where I'm from, being the all-time leading scorer at a Division I college, it means a lot."

In four seasons on Cold Spring Lane, Holmes hasn't always been flashy, but there is plenty of substance to his game. He can dunk but settles for layups. He can dangle the ball on a string but keeps it simple instead of trying to break an opponent's ankles with a crossover dribble. And instead of being a ballhog, he uses his high hoops IQ to get his teammates involved.

In it for the win

"Defenses are designed to stop him and put extra attention on him," Morgan coach Todd Bozeman said. "But his teammates can score so it's not all on his back. There's no pressure on Reggie. His desire to win is what’s pushing him."

The self-described gym rat keeps it simple off the court, too. He normally sports a stubbly beard and close-cropped hair. But he rocked a mohawk Thursday night with the number four shaved into his head to honor teammate Anthony Anderson (the redshirt freshman was diagnosed with leukemia before the start of the season). Holmes' one tattoo: a basketball hanging from a rosary, on his bicep.

Holmes, 22, says he doesn't smoke or drink, though he has pondered opening a liquor store because "everybody parties." Instead he watches movies and plays video games with teammates. And he is raising a 1-year-old son, Reggie Jr., with his girlfriend.

"I was scared having a child," the wiry 6-foot-4, 180-pound sharpshooter admitted. "But my father told me this should inspire me more to get better because I have a child to take care of. So I worked even harder."

Despite Holmes' accomplishments -- he is one of the top 10 scorers in Division I men's basketball and was named the 2009-10 Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference player of the year -- senior guard Troy Smith calls him modest. "He doesn't like to talk about himself," said Smith, who has been Holmes' friend for a decade.

But he can open up, in a way. Sophomore forward Ameer Ali, who shares an on-campus apartment with the Bears captain, says Holmes can be goofy and talks when you get to know him -- or after he falls asleep. "He'll wake up in the middle of the night and just start talking," Ali said. "He says all types of crazy stuff."

Ali also said Holmes is the first player at practice and weight-training. Bozeman called Holmes, a business major with a 3.0 GPA, the "epitome of a student athlete."

Thursday's Senior Night was already emotional enough for Holmes, who admitted to tearing up before the game. But he said claiming the record in his last game at Hill Field House felt "special while you're home, to do it in front of my family and friends" -- including his parents, his girlfriend and the loyal cheering section from Cherry Hill.

Mark Holmes says his son lived a "typical project life" in the gritty South Baltimore neighborhood. "It wasn't all bad," the 42-year-old truck driver said. Reggie stayed out of trouble and was an honor roll student, said his mother, Tijuana Harvey, 40, a chef. His parents never married, and their relationship ended when he was in elementary school, but they have active roles in his life. Holmes says reporters always ask him how he didn't "go the negative side" growing up. "It was my mother," he said. "I ain't kidding -- she didn't play. She was very disciplined. It was all basketball and school."

Holmes' father, who played high school hoops, bought him a Fisher-Price basketball set when he was 2, and he started league play a few years later. The former Southern High and St. Frances star has "always had the basketball in hands" since, Harvey said.

But today, even though he averages 22.4 points per game for the Bears, Holmes spends much of his time in the team's half-court offense without the ball. He hides in the corner or stalks along the three-point line, waiting for his opportunity. He usually doesn't command the ball verbally, yet it always seems to find its way to him.

And with the flick of the wrists, he strikes.

Seeing potential

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