116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
AMES — The more Jaren Holmes saw, the more impressed he became.
The former St. Bonaventure guard never played with fellow former Bonnie Izaiah Brockington, but when the latter shined for Iowa State last season, Holmes took notice.
“Just based off the fact how they trusted him, how they believed in him, and they kind of gave him the keys to help lead this team to the Sweet 16 — I admired his work and his growth as a player over last season,” said Holmes, who joined the Cyclones as a grad transfer this summer. “He transformed into a lot of things; into a player that a lot of people didn't think he could become being under-recruited while just having that high motor.”
Holmes sees a lot of similarities between Brockington’s growth at ISU and his own since joining the team. The 6-foot-4 guard averaged 13.5 points, five rebounds and 3.6 assists at St. Bonaventure last season. Brockington, who also stands 6-4, averaged 12.6 points, 4.9 rebounds and 1.7 assists in his final season at his second school, Penn State.
Both are athletic. Both were not highly coveted out of high school. And both believe they’ve been underdogs their entire lives.
“Even though I’m here at Iowa State and this is a dream come true, I still feel like I'm an underdog,” said Holmes, who grew up in Romulus, Mich. “I still feel like nobody believes I should be here. I still believe that people still think it's a fluke that I'm here. That's just the truth and I work like that every single day.
“I don't expect anybody to give me anything. I had to go out there and take everything I've ever had to achieve. I've taken it from not having a scholarship out of prep school, only having a couple out of junior college. So I I've earned everything that I've gotten today so I plan on continuing to do that.”
Holmes, like Brockington, could excel on both ends of the floor for the Cyclones. He’s athletic. He’s a dogged defender. His shooting percentage (39.2 percent overall, 27.3 percent from 3-point range last season) needs to spike, but Brockington was in a similar spot when he joined ISU last summer — and all seven of his career double-doubles came last season.
“I’ve liked Jaren Holmes, his level of aggressiveness, playmaking, scoring,” ISU head coach T.J. Otzelberger said. “He’s done a great job and I’ve been pleased with (returning guard) Gabe (Kalscheur) and how he's stepped up early on in our workouts. So those two guys at this point have shown some really great things and will continue to develop in our offense and what works best and who those guys are to step up and make the shots.”
Holmes — who helped ensure former teammate and two-time Atlantic 10 defensive player of the year Osun Osunniyi would also join the Cyclones’ program this summer — is convinced he can improve his statistical profile as much as Brockington did at ISU.
“I believe I can, but ultimately, I want to win,” Holmes said. “And that's all that matters to me at the end of the day. With those guys in that locker room, no matter how many points I score, as long as (we win) and we're on our way to possibly a Big 12 championship and NCAA berth and run, that’s all that matters to me at the end of the day.”