Holden’s successes may lead to more college offers for Shore

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When Kory Holden committed to the University of Delaware last year, many basketball fans in the Salisbury area were unsure of what his future in college basketball would be as a Blue Hen, but he knew what he was getting into and knew he would have an opportunity to start in some way.

Delaware had a solid team last season and earned a berth into the NCAA tournament after winning the Colonial Athletic Association title, but after transfers and graduating players depleted the Blue Hens’ backcourt an opportunity presented itself to the former James M. Bennett point guard to not only start right away, but be the primary ball handler.

“I knew I would be starting, especially with all of the hard work I put in, (it was) just a matter of whether I would play on or off the ball with Jarvis (Threatt) here,” Holden said. “Once he was gone I automatically had a chance to be the point guard and leader.”

Holden has started at the point guard spot since day one and has excelled in both that position and as a leader for the Blue Hens. After averaging 18 points and seven assists in a win over William & Mary and loss to Elon last week he earned his third CAA rookie of the week honor this season. Against William and Mary, Holden hit a pair of free throws with three seconds left to seal the victory for the Blue Hens.

The Blue Hens are off track from where the team that won the conference title was last year as they are 4-15 overall and just 3-5 in the conference, but Holden has been a bright spot for them so far. His 4.5 assists-per-game are good enough for second best among all players in the conference and his 13.4 points-per-contest rank as the 9th best.

Still, despite their early struggles, the Blue Hens have won three of their last five games and are right in the thick of things in a wide open CAA. Holden believes they still have a chance to repeat as conference champions.

“I’m looking at the bigger picture, which is those three games in March,” Holden said of the CAA tournament. “The league is wide open. We’re going to keep getting better. Offensively it seems as if we’ve put it together. We have to get better defensively and we can play with anybody in the league. “

Even as a freshman, Holden has assumed the role of the leader of the Blue Hens. But being a leader is not a new task for him – at James M. Bennett, he was tasked with doing the same thing as a junior and a senior and helped lead the Clippers to over 16 wins in is junior and senior campaigns.

“The self-motivation I had at Bennett helped me bring the team together,” he said. “They saw what I was doing and started to pick up on it. Leading by example is very key for me here at (Delaware) too. Coach tells me all the time that the team feeds off of me so, if I’m being lazy and what not then they will too.”

Holden is the latest example of a basketball player from the Eastern Shore quickly making a name for themselves in Division I college basketball.

Just across the Chesapeake Bay, former Queen Anne’s center Damonte Dodd is becoming a key part of the Maryland Terrapins success as a sophomore. He leads the Terps in blocks-per-game and is a valuable asset as a defender and rebounder and has helped the Terps land in the Top 25 rankings this year, currently placed at 16.

With Holden and Dodd performing well – and with Parkside guard Colen Gaynor committing to University of Maryland-Eastern Shore last week – it might spark more college coaches to look at the players on the hardwood here on the Eastern Shore in the Bayside Conference instead of ignoring them like so many have been in the past.

Holden agrees, but also advises that the players must be willing to work.

“It’s possible. There is a lot of talent there like Jorden Duffy, Shakur Cottman and Dajour Diggs just to name a few,” Holden said. “It’s just a matter of if they want to put the work in. I was determined not to be somebody that had talent but didn’t go anywhere. I hope it’s the start of a new beginning.”

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