Senior Forward Richaun Holmes turns himself into Falcon standout

In sports, a person’s work ethic can rub off on the entire team.

Senior guard Anthony Henderson said that is the case this year with Richaun Holmes.

“His work ethic is contagious,” Henderson said. “Just seeing what he does every day helps me and I’m sure it helps everyone else too.”

Working hard was always something Holmes did, but it wasn’t until this season that the 6-foot-8, senior forward from Lockport, Illinois realized he needed to push it to a different level.

“When coach Jans first came here he told me I’m going to have to be a guy that works hard,” Holmes said. “At the time I didn’t know what he meant, I thought ‘I am working hard.’ [Jans] said ‘you are going to have to work much harder than this.’”

“I was trying to get him out of his comfort zone,” Jans said. “When I talk about comfort zone I mean giving more effort and playing harder.”

That is something that Holmes bought into around October and the results speak for itself. Holmes has become one of the players talked about when the phrase: “Mid-American Conference Player of the Year,” comes up.

He is averaging 14.5 points per game, eight rebounds and 2.8 blocks per game and in the midst of a season where the Falcons are among the best in the MAC he has stood out as their best player.

“Everything showed up on the court that I was doing in practice. This is the first time I’ve ever worked this hard,” Holmes said. “It’s the first time I’ve ever played this well too, there is definitely a correlation and I understand that now.”

He may just now understand the correlation, but after not receiving any Division I scholarship offers out of high school he vowed to work his way to a Division I basketball team.

He went to Moraine Valley Community College and used not getting any offers as his motivation.

“I knew I had the talent and skill to play Division I, it was just a matter of working and somebody giving me a chance,” Holmes said. “I was set on being a Division I player.”

Moraine’s head coach at the time Dedrick Shannon told Holmes that if he went there he would get a lot of Division I offers. They didn’t just flow in though, Shannon made sure Holmes worked for everything he got, Holmes said.

“Coach Shannon pretty much forced me to be good,” Holmes said. “He worked out with me tirelessly. He made sure he worked me hard enough to be successful and I appreciate him for that.”

After a year averaging 19.3 points per game, 9.3 rebounds and 5.2 blocks the offers came pouring in.

There were a lot of teams that recruited Holmes he said, but BG stood out because they recruited him the hardest.

“They really showed interest and made it known that they really wanted me,” Holmes said. “[Louis Orr] was there and he was the only head coach who came to see me.”

“It was surreal because you work so hard to achieve a goal and now it was right there in front of you.”

Holmes went on to sign with the Falcons, but his work ethic took a step back. On a scale of 1-10 he rated his work ethic in his first few years at BG a four compared to the six it was in junior college.

So he found a role on the team as a shot blocker, a role he was comfortable in and best at.

“As time went on I got used to the game and I found different ways to score,” Holmes said.

This year new head coach Chris Jans’ intensity rubbed off on Holmes and that has made him want to perfect his game that much more, he said.

“This is the hardest I’ve ever worked in my life,” he said. “[Jans] is a hard worker and I think that kind of rubbed off on me, because he is a winner and just seeing the time he puts in made me want to work that much harder to perfect my craft.”

It wasn’t an overnight mindset change for Holmes though, it was a day-to-day process, because he wasn’t in the right shape he said.

“I told myself ‘okay you are going to work hard until you can’t work hard anymore this day,’” he said. “‘The next day you are in shape more and you can work harder and harder.’”

That mindset is one of the main reasons the Falcons are a favorite to win the MAC Tournament in March and one of the reasons he is a MAC Player of the Year candidate.

Both Henderson and Jans said they think he is the best player in the MAC right now.

“No offense to anybody else in the MAC, but I wouldn’t trade Richaun for anybody,” Jans said.

“He can do just about anything really. I would say he is number one just off of the versatility that he has,” Henderson said.

Holmes said he appreciates the talk, but isn’t really listening to it.

“Me personally I’ve never been into individual awards playing basketball. If I’m in the talks for MAC Player of the Year that’s because my team is doing well,” Holmes said.

The Falcons are on pace for their best season since 2002 and with a hold on the three seed in the MAC they can make it to Cleveland for the MAC Tournament for the first time in four years.

“I’m a team player, this is a team sport and this is about us, about Bowling Green Falcons not about Richaun Holmes,” he said.