Xavier point guard and Hempstead native Tu Holloway never felt he got the respect he deserved on the basketball court growing up. Playing in the shadows of the New York City playgrounds can do that to players from Long Island.
Despite playing in some of New York City’s most highly respected summer leagues, including Rucker Park, the Gauchos and at the IS8, Holloway wasn’t considered a blue chip, major college conference player.
Respect isn’t a problem for Holloway anymore. In fact, if the Atlantic-10 Conference had a preseason player of the year award, it would probably go to Holloway. Fresh off the Atlantic-10 player of the year award for the 2010-2011 season, the senior was a preseason first-team All-Conference 10 pick on offense and defense.
Holloway averaged 19.7 points, 5.4 assists and 5 rebounds for Xavier (24-8) last season and emerged as one of the country's top players. The Musketeers have made the last six NCAA Tournaments.
“I guess since I was a kid, I remember being 13 and 14 and working hard all the time playing in New York City and not always getting the respect that I felt I deserved,” Holloway said. “It’s a journey. So now I’m a senior. I worked pretty hard to get here. I’m just excited at the end of the day to be honored and recognized.”
The accolades haven’t changed his attitude toward the game, though.
“The routine is the same,” said Holloway. “That’s the best way I can go about it…doing the same things I did last year.”
The pressure will be on this season for the Musketeers. In addition to Holloway’s recognition as one of the nation’s top players, Xavier, which returns two other starters in Kenny Frease and Mark Lyons, is the preseason favorite to win the Atlantic-10 regular season title.
Holloway shrugged off the notion that the team won't be ready to handle the media scrutiny.
Said Holloway: “It’s always natural to get pressure when you get awards like that.”