Holmes progresses as season moves on

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Freshman forward Joyner Holmes fights off a crowd of Sooners on Tuesday, Jan. 17. Holmes starred for the Longhorns with a 20-point, 10-rebound double-double in the 86-68 victory.
Photo Credit: Rachel Zein | Daily Texan Staff

Joyner Holmes picked up a basketball when she was four years old. She’s had one in her hand every day since then.  

Holmes quickly developed a knack for the game. As a middle schooler in Cedar Hill, Texas, she began to realize she had a bright future on the hardwood.

“In fifth and sixth grade, I started playing against boys in P.E. and they would always tell me I was good,” Holmes said. “I got to seventh grade and I was killing teams, like single-handedly. Then after my eighth grade season when I was going into high school, the varsity coach asked me to come over and play in a fall league with them, and that’s kind of when I knew I was pretty good.”

Natural physicality and the passion to compete has always come easy for Holmes. But she needed to convert her raw talent into a complete skill set when she stepped foot onto the 40 Acres. 

Nervousness set in when the 6-foot-3-inch forward made her debut on Nov. 14 against the Stanford Cardinal in Palo Alto, California. She only recorded three points in a 71-59 loss.

But the jitters didn’t linger long as her confidence began to soar. Holmes bounced back with a 22-point outing against Houston Baptist. Once the season started to progress, she knew it was time to turn it up a notch — and so did her teammates. 

“After a few games where I actually scored and rebounded and played defense, my teammates came up to me and said, ‘you can do that every game,’” Holmes said. “From that point forward, I just had a mindset to just give it my all.”

In early December, Texas head coach Karen Aston provided Holmes an opportunity she couldn’t resist — a spot in the starting lineup.

“Coach asked me if I wanted to start and I kind of hesitated,” Holmes said. “But I told myself, ‘I think I’ve matured and I think I’ve grown since I got here, so I think I can step into my role a little better.’”

Holmes has started in 16 games for the Longhorns this season. Two months have passed since her collegiate debut and a more confident, comfortable Holmes is making huge contributions to the No. 12 Longhorns’ success. Texas rides 12-game winning streak and an undefeated Big 12-record into tonight’s matchup with TCU. 

Holmes averages double-digit points on the season along with junior guards Brooke McCarty and Ariel Atkins — the only three Longhorns to do so.

In eight conference starts, Holmes put up 13.1 points and 8.8 rebounds per game. Aston dedicates Holmes’ development to her commitment and willingness to learn from her teammates.

“One of the keys to coaching talented young players is having talented older ones,” Aston said. “(Holmes) definitely has a lot to learn and a lot to get better at, and she knows that, but I think she wants to be good. She wants to please, but she also wants to not let her
teammates down.”

Holmes continues her freshman campaign this evening as the Longhorns take on TCU in Fort Worth, Texas. Tip off is slated for 8 p.m.