Holman shoots, scores, defends for Bulldogs

MSU's Aric Holman (35)
Staff Writer

He’s not selling popcorn yet. He’s not taking up tickets either. However Mississippi State’s Aric Holman is doing a little bit of everything for the Bulldogs these days as he’s on the pathway towards a career year in maroon and white.

Holman, MSU’s junior forward who is fresh off his third double-double of the season when he scored a career-best 21 points and pulled down 12 rebounds in a win over UT Martin on Saturday, has become a jack-of-all-trades for the Bulldogs.

Need points? Holman is second on the team with 12.7 per game. 

Need a rebound? Holman leads the squad with eight per contest.

How about a 3-pointer? The big man is shooting a team-best 64 percent from beyond the arc.
He’s shooting, he’s scoring and he’s defending, and it’s a big reason the Bulldogs are off to a 9-1 start – the school’s best start in six seasons.

“(Holman is) just able to stay on the court longer than he used to,” MSU teammate Quinndary Weatherspoon said of how Holman has progressed in his career. “His adrenaline is up and he is just playing harder because he’s staying out there longer. The first couple of years, he couldn’t stay out there a long period of time, but he has worked on his conditioning and things like that to get better. His conditioning has let him play harder and be great.”

Saturday was just the latest example of how Holman has grown as a player, but he’s been displaying it all year long. Holman has scored in double digits in eight of State’s 10 games. On top of Saturday, he also had double-doubles against Alabama State and Cincinnati. 
It’s not totally a surprise that Holman is productive. He has been good before. Last year, Holman averaged 8.4 points and six rebounds per game.
Yet even Holman himself admits he has taken thing to a different level this year.

“It has just been the mental aspect of things,” Holman said. “It has been me spending time on the things I need to spend time on in order to be great in order to help the team.”

Maybe no one is prouder to see Holman’s progress than MSU head coach Ben Howland. The only thing Howland wishes was different is that, in a perfect world, Holman could be a sophomore instead of a junior. 
Two seasons ago, in Holman’s freshman year, he possibly could have redshirted after missing the year’s first 10 games with a micro fracture in his knee. Yet when then-MSU center Fallou Ndoye transferred away from the Bulldogs around the holidays, Holman was forced into action for the remainder of the 2015-16 season.

“I lamented earlier this year that I am so disappointed that we couldn’t redshirt (Holman) his freshman year,” Howland said. “He played less than 200 minutes that year, but he’s doing a good job for us now and I’m excited for him, especially how he is rebounding and shooting the ball for three. He’s shooting really well and with a lot of confidence.”

The exciting thing for Holman is he still has plenty of basketball left in his Mississippi State career. Southeastern Conference play hasn’t even begun yet this season and a senior year still awaits.
If this year’s first 10 games are any indication for the Bulldogs, Holman has much of production ahead. 
MSU might never count on Holman to man the concession stand, but it is glad to reap the benefits of his all-around play on the court.

“It’s because of all the work he has put in,” Howland said of Holman’s success.