Holloway was just beginning to find his groove in McCall’s new system a season ago when his year came to an abrupt halt. With his minutes hovering between 15-20 a night, Holloway saw 24 minutes on Jan. 3 against George Mason, having his best game of the year finishing with 13 points and 10 rebounds and rejecting six shots on the defensive end. He looked like the player McCall was so excited to have in his arsenal when he took the job with the Minutemen.
That would be the last game Holloway would play that season. After the game, he was ruled academically ineligible for the second semester of school, ending his year.
Holloway knows he let the team down. UMass was short-handed to begin with, and his loss left them with a mere five scholarship players for the second half of the season.
It was a wake up call for the big man, and it has motivated him to get in the gym this offseason to get into better shape and be able to have a large impact for the Minutemen this season.
“I feel like I have something to prove,” Holloway said. “I missed half the season, disappointed everybody, disappointed myself and it’s going to be good for me to get back out there and show people I did what I had to do and now I’m going to get back out there and do my thing on the court.
“I can’t wait to go out there and prove to people that I’m the same Rashaan. I’m going to play harder and have more things to play for.”
For Holloway, being able to have a large impact on the team comes down to being in shape. To do that, some of his mornings consist of getting to the team’s practice facility at six in the morning for a workout, taking a break, coming back at 11 for another workout and then practices later in the day.
I can't wait to go out there and prove to people that I'm the same Rashaan. I'm going to play harder and have more things to play for. - Rashaan Holloway
It is a grind for someone of his size to stay in playing shape, but knowing he only has one more season to prove himself, getting up to workout hasn’t been as challenging. Coaches and trainers in the facility have been impressed with the way he has handled himself this offseason, seeing that the hard work has gotten him into a position where he can impact the game for stretches without having to be subbed out for rest consistently.
"I think Rashaan Holloway is one of the best athletes I've ever coached,” strength and conditioning coach Coty Greene said. “I've never seen someone be able to move like that at that size. You know he's 6-foot-11, 300 and something pounds, I've never seen an athlete that large be able to move that quickly, be able to run up and down the court like that, or be able to jump like that. He's a freak athlete.”
While the coaches have been working hard with Holloway all offseason, it has been his teammates that have given him the biggest boost. They have been on him at all times, making sure he is in the gym working out and doing what he has to do off the court academically to stay eligible for the season.
Holloway credits them for motivating him to be the best possible player he can be.
“If I’m feeling down,” Holloway said, “and I come in here and I’m feeling like ‘ugh, I can’t do this, I’m feeling lazy,’ these guys will be on me. They’ll make me play. They’ll make me be better.
“It’s a lot different than past teams. Everybody here is on the same page. Everybody here wants the same thing. Everybody here wants to win championships and everyone here wants to be successful. We have to come together and do that.”