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COLUMN: From role player to leader
Column: From role player to leader
By Dave Fairbank | email@example.com
HAMPTON -- For those hoping to track the progress of Myles Holley at tonight's state coaches association East-West all-star basketball game, it would be wise not to focus on one area of the court.
Holley was Booker T. Washington's 6-foot-5 forward/guard/post player/perimeter defender/facilitator/oh, what the heck, create your own description, for the past two years.
As part of a gifted group in 2006, he helped the Bookers to the Group AAA state title. Despite an extreme roster makeover, he nearly carried the team to a second consecutive championship last spring, as Booker T. fell in the state semifinals.
"I went from being a role player to being a leader," Holley said Monday afternoon after a team practice at Hampton High. "By being a leader, that means helping my team win. Taking all the precautionary steps to put your team in a position to win. It ain't about me, it's about team and giving everybody a chance to contribute."
Holley is an exceptional athlete who plays taller than his size. He is comfortable around the basket and deceptively strong, yet capable of operating on the perimeter and making jump shots.
He can defend any position on the court. He can fill a lane on the fast break. He finds open teammates and has a decent handle.
Peninsula District champ Menchville had a close-up of Holley's act in the Eastern Region tournament. He torched the Monarchs for 32 points in the Bookers' 65-61 victory.
"He's real athletic, he can get to the basket, he's quick," said Menchville guard Darryl Shazier, Holley's teammate tonight. "If you put a guard on him, he'll take it to the basket. If you put a big man on him, he'll take you to the perimeter. Basically, he's a matchup problem."
Holley, a first-team all-state selection, need look no farther than his own bench for proof that it's possible to make a living from defying category.
East coach Bryant Stith, who took Brunswick High to the state tournament last season, became the University of Virginia's all-time leading scorer as a player without a defined position. At 6-6, he was too quick for opponents' "bigs" and too big for their "quicks."
Not to suggest that Holley is the equal of an All-ACC player who spent 10 years in the NBA, only that there is room in the game for those whose size and skill set do not conform to standard basketball, 1-through-5 numerology.
Booker T. coach Darren Sanderlin said, "I tell him, 'When I assign you a number, it's for defense. When we're on offense, I just need you to be Myles Holley.' "
Holley had good, if not outstanding, numbers during the regular season: 16.7 points and 7.4 rebounds per game. In postseason, his scoring jumped almost 50 percent to 24.6 points per game and his rebounding nearly doubled to 13.5, to go along with four blocks per game.
"It's not wanting to lose," Holley explained of his statistical jump. "It's playing with 150 percent effort and a lot of heart. If you do that, you'd be amazed at what you can accomplish."
Sanderlin said that it took time this season for the new-look Bookers to get comfortable with each other and to realize that Holley would make them better if they allowed it. Holley, he said, better recognized defenses and defenders, and played to the situation.
"When you've got a lot of suits in the closet," Sanderlin said, "you've got to know what suit to put on."
Holley will wear a Johnson C. Smith suit in college, in Charlotte, N.C., as will East teammate Ronald Thornhill from Brunswick. Sanderlin said that Holley will not be eligible as a freshman, a result of inconsistent academic performance early in high school that caught up to him later.
But Sanderlin is confident that Holley will flourish, on and off the court, in college.
"When you've gotten all the attention and recognition he's had, you can easily get big-headed," Sanderlin said. "But he stays humble. He treats the other guys like family. He's a good kid. His biggest attribute, the biggest intangible, is that he's a humble kid who just wants to get better."
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