By Fredderick Nettles Ole Miss Athletics Media Relations
We all have that fantasy as a child. In our back yard, counting down from three seconds, with the key crossover, pulling up the shot yelling your favorite athlete’s name while nailing the game winning shot to defeat your most hated opponent. Each time you did it, the feeling greatly exceeded the previous one. For many people, they never get the chance to experience that limelight, that moment of stardom.
For Murphy Holloway, a senior on the Ole Miss men’s basketball team, that dream is slowly taking its course as he prepares for his final season and a potential record breaking year for the Rebels.
Growing up in Irmo, S.C., the 6 foot 7 inch, 195 pound high school senior dreamed of taking his basketball talents to another level. Averaging 28 points, 15 rebounds, 4 blocks and 2 steals per game, Holloway dominated the South Carolina basketball area and was selected to the North Carolina versus South Carolina All-Star game.
After a stellar senior campaign, Holloway had various offers. From those offers, he narrowed his choices down to Clemson, Ole Miss and Maryland. Without any hesitation, Holloway chose the Rebels.
Working his way up the depth chart, as well as the record books, Holloway had, as some would say, a pretty “decent” freshman year. In 2008-09 he averaged 8 points and just under 7 rebounds per game.
Following his sophomore season, in May of 2010, Holloway left the Ole Miss Rebel basketball program due to family reasons. He transferred to the University of South Carolina and had to sit out a year due to NCAA transfer rules. Once his family situation was handled at home, Holloway jumped at the opportunity of a possible return to Ole Miss.
“I was very excited and relieved at the same time to return to Ole Miss,” he said. “When my child’s mother finished school, I knew I wanted to come back. I told Coach (Darrin) Horn (then South Carolina coach) that I wanted to go back and called Coach (Andy) Kennedy.”
Upon his return to the Tad Pad last year, Holloway averaged just over 11 points and 9 rebounds per game as a junior. He became the second Rebel since 1980 to average 9.0 or more rebounds per game for an entire season. Holloway added to that load, playing a team-high 31 minutes per game.
This summer, Holloway was selected to attend the Amare Stoudemire Skills Academy camp held in Chicago, Ill.
“It was a great experience,” he said. “It was fun and a lot of great athletes were there. NBA scouts, coaches and former coaches were there just giving us advice and telling us what we needed to work on. It was a great experience for me.”
Ole Miss hasn’t been to the NCAA tournament since 2002, making the NIT the last three years and five of the last six. Holloway has very high expectations this season.
“It would definitely be a huge monkey off my back,” he said. “I would definitely compare making the NCAA tournament to my daughter being born. The accomplishment would be great.”
One of three seniors, Murphy said that he feels that he, Nick and Reggie can “lead the guys, if they’re willing to follow.” “We just have to push them and go as far as we can,” he said.
A fifth-year senior, Holloway has never experienced the atmosphere or the pressure of being in the NCAA tournament.
“Personally, I definitely dwell on it,” he said. “You always go back and think about what you could’ve done better the previous game. It’s a very thin line between winning and losing, but you just have to buy in as a team and have that one goal. And that’s to be successful.”
Holloway says that fans can expect great things this upcoming season. “Our talent level has definitely increased,” he said. “Our coaches are doing a great job with recruiting. I don’t see why we shouldn’t make the NCAA tournament.”
Having Missouri, Kentucky, Tennessee, Mississippi State and Texas A&M visiting the Tad Pad this season, Ole Miss definitely has a challenge on its hands to protect home court.
“Our crowd is definitely going to be a factor this season,” Holloway said. “If we can take care of business and defend our home court, a win a few big road games we’ll be fine.”
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