TORRINGTON – Eastern Wyoming College freshman Nick Holmes is looking to further his basketball career by trying out for the Houston team in the Junior Basketball Association, a new league founded by Lavar Ball.
“I’ve just been working out and I talked to my family and I talked to my parents,” Holmes said. “We just think that this is a great opportunity for me to go ahead and try out to see if I really want to do this. We think it would be good for me to kind of open the gateway to my professional career.”
Holmes will fly to Houston, where he has family, on Saturday for the tryouts this Sunday. He will be trying out in front of Lavar Ball, Los Angeles Laker Lonzo Ball and former NBA players Ed O’Bannon and Earl Watson, all of whom are on the selection committee.
“Of course I’m nervous, but I think that’s part of being ready and being prepared,” Holmes said of playing in front of such big names. “If I wasn’t nervous, then I’d feel like I’m not ready. There’s a lot of big names I’m going to be playing in front of so there is a bit of pressure there.”
Upwards of 100 basketball players will be trying out for the Houston team, with eight roster spots up for grabs. The eight players will be selected at the end of the seven-hour tryout period, with contracts sent out shortly after that. Although Holmes knows players from some of the other JBA teams, he does not know anyone he will be competing against in Houston for the roster spot.
“I like not knowing what I’m going up against, because I’ll just play my hardest,” Holmes said. “Once I’m playing my hardest, I’m pretty hard to stop.”
Houston is one of eight cities across the county to have a JBA team, with Los Angeles, Seattle, Dallas, Atlanta, New York, Philadelphia and Chicago all hosting tryouts for eight roster spots for each squad.
If Holmes is selected and signs for the Houston team, he and the rest of the JBA players will have a training camp in May, before kicking off the season, which starts in mid-June and runs through September. The season will have an all-star game, playoffs and finals.
Holmes came to the Lancers this past year, where he averaged 21.7 minutes per game on the floor for EWC. He was highly recruited heading into his senior year of high school, but a medical condition that he eventually overcame, made that interest from Division I schools disappear, putting him on the hardwood in a Lancers uniform.
“It helped me grow a lot, not just as a player, but as a person in general,” Holmes said of this past season with EWC. “From the player standpoint, I definitely got to see a lot of high level competition. I played a lot of great guards who are signed to DI colleges.
“I feel like that helped me and that’s another thing that will help me this weekend,” he added. “I’ve already seen a lot of DI guys that are great guards. That will help me this weekend with the competition.”
During last season with EWC, Holmes averaged 8.6 points, 2.6 rebounds, 1.8 assists and 0.9 steals per game.
If Holmes is selected for one of the eight roster spots in Houston, he will officially be a paid professional athlete and he will not be allowed to play for a college team anymore. If he is not chosen, Holmes could return to college to play basketball, either for the Lancers or elsewhere.
The JBA is only open to players 17-19-years old, so this would only be a short opportunity for Holmes, but would increase his exposure, with the hopes of moving on with his career. Before he can look ahead, all of his focus is on locking up a roster spot this weekend.
“This is another door that is opening for me. I’m ready for it to be the next chapter in my life,” Holmes said. “My number one goal is for that roster spot.”