Maturity, competitive nature continue to drive Holmes
On one hand, Kezia Holmes is mature and has a high basketball IQ.
So Warner Robins girls basketball head coach Tracy Fendley could leave Holmes in charge of a practice perhaps?
“She could,” Fendley said. “I don’t have to baby her.”
On the other hand, Holmes wants to win. A rebounding drill, a one-on-one drill, free throws, pretty much anything in practice, and obviously, anything it takes to win games.
“She’s so competitive,” Fendley said, upon further thought and with a chuckle. “She would probably have to have an adult around because she’s so competitive.”
The 5-foot-9 wing certainly has done a fine job of helping Warner Robins win. The Demons went 50-5 the past two years and have had one of the top GHSA Class 6A and 5A teams in the state.
Holmes has been a major reason, and she has been named The Telegraph’s All-Middle Georgia Girls Basketball Player of the Year.
“She’s not someone who has had everything handed to her,” Fendley said. “She’s had to work for a lot of what she’s gotten. She’s got a tough mindset. She’s got some grit to her.”
Holmes breaks a streak of repeating winners, with Peach County’s Nausia Woolfolk (at Florida State), Mary Persons’ KeKe Calloway (at Mercer) and Washington County’s Allisha Gray (now in the WNBA).
Holmes is different in style than that impressive collection, but she matches their impact.
As a third-team All-Middle Georgia selection in 2015-16, Holmes averaged 12 points, 3.4 rebounds, 3.2 steals and 1.5 blocks as part of a balanced team that included Le’Terria Mathis, an All-Middle Georgia first-teamer that season.
The Demons were again balanced in 2016-17, with Holmes and Mathis getting even more help.
“You never want a team where there are only one or two good players,” said Holmes, who averaged 17 points, 4.5 rebounds, 3.2 steals, 2 assists and 2.5 blocks as a senior. “You want to have a (number) of good players. That’s where your success starts, for the season or if you want to have any type of championship run.”
Warner Robins followed a strong 2015-16 season with a 27-2 season this season, losing to Buford in the Class 5A quarterfinals. Holmes had 12 points, four assists, three blocks and five rebounds in the game.
While not tall, Holmes has an ability to get things done inside.
“She can block shots,” Fendley said. “The shots that she blocks, her timing in blocking shots is pretty amazing.”One of Holmes’ double-doubles this season included blocks, 13, to go with 20 points in a win over Perry. She had a career-high 35 points against Veterans on senior night.
Holmes, who passed 1,000 points for her career in mid-February, is the oldest of three children. She’s not sure if 5-year-old sister Honesti will follow in her high-tops.
“She just likes to dance,” Holmes said, with almost laughing exasperation. “She’s always dancing. She’s watching YouTube videos, YouTube dancing videos and trying to do it.
“I’m like, ‘Get a ball, already.’ ”
Holmes, who is an NCAA Division I qualifier, is headed for Florida Southwestern State, a junior college in Fort Myers, Florida, formerly named Edison State. The Bucs went 20-11 last season, including 9-3 in the Florida College System Athletic Association.
Holmes is hoping to match what former Stratford boys standout O’Showen Williams did as an NCAA qualifier: go to a junior college, improve and get accustomed to college ball. He signed recently with Appalachian State after one season at South Georgia State.
Holmes is currently a “tweener” on the next level: not a pure scorer or lock-down defender on the perimeter, not a point guard, not big enough to be a post player.
She knows it and will spend next season working on clearly defining her role and value.
“Assists and rebounding, for college,” she said of her on-court priorities. “If you want to play at the big level, you’ve got to be a rebounding guard. You can’t just be a scorer. Definitely rebounds and assists.”
Holmes’ game doesn’t match her two favorite NBA players, Kevin Durant and Steph Curry.
“My favorite player is Kevin Durant,” said Holmes, counting down the days until May 27 and graduation. “But I’d rather play like Steph Curry. You’re going to feel his presence. You’re going to feel his presence regardless of his size.
“That’s how I kind of relate. You’re gonna feel my presence, regardless of how big or small or tall I am, or my speed. You’re gonna know that I’m there.”
All-Middle Georgia GHSA Girls Basketball Players of the Year
2016: Nausia Woolfolk, Peach County
2015: Nausia Woolfolk, Peach County
2014: KeKe Calloway, Mary Persons
2013: KeKe Calloway, Mary Persons
2012: Allisha Gray, Washington County
2011: Allisha Gray, Washington County
2010: Tai Brown, Northside
2009: Teshia Griswold, Baldwin
2008: Jalissa Dawson, Baldwin
2007: Cierra Duhart, Hawkinsville
2006: Chimere Jordan, Jones County
2005: Chimere Jordan, Jones County
2004: Moreemi Davis, Perry
2003: Lekecia James, Northeast
2002: April Johnson, Jones County
2001: Jennifer Harper, Northeast
2000: Tasha Butts, Baldwin