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Growing up in the basketball Mecca that is New York City, John Holland was exposed to the game from an early age. As a teenager, he attended Fordham Preparatory Academy in the Bronx, excelling at both basketball and baseball. However, at the conclusion of his senior year, he found himself with no Division I scholarship offers and an uncertain future.
Nonetheless, Holland remained convinced of his ability to compete at the highest collegiate level and became determined to prove his worth on the court, using a post-graduate year at St. Benedict’s Prep in Newark, N.J., to hone his basketball skills. Holland’s tenacity and faith in his abilities paid great dividends, as he was recruited by several Division I programs during his PG year, ultimately deciding to attend Boston University.
“Choosing BU was really easy because I liked the academics along with the environment,” says Holland. “It just felt right.”
Little did Holland know just how right his experience on the BU basketball team would be. The 6-5 guard rapidly became the top player on his team, concluding his college career as the second leading scorer in Terriers history. This past season, he led the America East with 19.2 points and 1.4 steals a game, and was honored as the Conference Player of the Year and a 2011 Associated Press All-America Honorable Mention.
More importantly however, Holland singlehandedly willed his team to its first NCAA Tournament berth in nine years, with 27 hard-fought points and two clutch free throws with just seconds left on the clock in the America East championship game.
“(Reaching the NCAA Tournament) was great, probably one of the best basketball experiences of my life,” says Holland. “It was unbelievable to be a part of that, something I’ll never forget. Just the intensity and how hard you really have to work to achieve that goal. Everybody put in the hours and the hard work and it all paid off.”
Although Holland and his team remained competitive with Kansas in the first half of their opening-round game, BU could not pull off the upset and eventually bowed out to the Jayhawks. Nonetheless, Holland maintained that playing against such a talented team helped him develop as a player and appreciate the difficulty of competing at the highest level.