A year ago, this was a feeling DaRon Holmes had not become acquainted with yet. Receiving a scholarship from some of the top schools in the college basketball scene seemed like a faint dream.
Then, Grand Canyon University came calling, in June of 2018, pleading Holmes to bring his services to Lope Country. This, his first college basketball scholarship offer, unleashed the flood gates, bringing universities and head coaches to the 6-foot-9, 185-pound power forward in droves.
Holmes, an incoming junior at Millennium High School, saw his offers begin to multiply since GCU’s initial bid. Arizona State University entered the mix three weeks later.
Since then, he has seen offers from the University of New Mexico, University of California and Texas Tech University, among others. The latest in line hoping to land Holmes, the top recruit in Arizona’s 2021 class, is the University of Arizona and University of Kansas. Both UofA and Kansas made their official offers in late May.
“(The Kansas offer) was really special,” Holmes said, in part due to the Jayhawks’ perennial contention for a national championship, but also because of his family ties to the university.
“My parents both went there. My dad went there for grad school; my mom went there all four years. I also grew up in that area since I was born in Kansas,” he said.
Holmes lived in Kansas until the seventh grade, when his family moved to Arizona.
“I’ve always been a Jayhawks fan,” he said.
With two years left of high school ball, Holmes will certainly draw interest from more and more universities. At 6-foot-9, he averaged a team-leading 19.3 points per game his sophomore season, leading the Tigers to the 5A state championship game.
He also averaged 10.7 rebounds, 4.2 blocked shots and 3.2 assists per game this season. Just once was he held to single-digit points in 26 games.
“I am very excited for DaRon and his family,” Millennium head coach Ty Amundsen said. “He has worked extremely hard on his game and is driven to be the best player he can be.
Despite the influx of offers, where Holmes will play college ball is to be determined. It’s a “waiting game” as of now, patiently standing by until the perfect fit presents itself.
“I have certain schools that I have feelings for,” he said. “But it’s definitely going to be a waiting game because you never know what can happen.”
Holmes does hope to have his decision narrowed down by his senior year, beginning in the fall of 2020.
Leading into his freshman year of high school at Millennium, basketball was never something Holmes looked too much into. A fun sport to play, sure, but probably not a sport he’d revolve his future around.
Then, he grew.
In eighth grade, Holmes was 6-foot-2. Then, he sprouted a few more inches, towering up to 6-foot-5 as a freshman.
“And sophomore year, I grew a lot more,” he said, finally rounding out now at 6-foot-9.
It’s sinful, one might imagine, being 6-foot-9 and lacking a vision of dominating the paint and averaging a double-double every night. So, naturally, as Holmes grew his love for basketball did, too. If he put in the work, he surmised, he could develop into quite the player.
“(I realized I could be good) my ninth-grade year, during high school basketball and just developing, getting better, playing with the school,” he said.
His first two years of high school have allowed him to burst onto the recruiting scene, establishing himself as a top-notch talent in the state of Arizona, but Holmes believes it’s only a prelude of what is to come. This prediction of his is one that will both spook opposing teams and bring great delight to Amundsen and the Tigers.
“I think I can get a lot better, especially with the resources I have — my high school coach, my high school coaching staff and my club coach.”
Said Amundsen, “His offers will continue to come, his game will continue to evolve, and in the end he will have enough schools to make a family decision on what is the right fit for him and his family.”