By Phil Anastasia
One way to gauge Rashaan Holloway's remarkable progress since his freshman season was by that sequence in the third quarter, when he threw home a dunk off an alley-oop pass, then lifted a steal at halfcourt, took three dribbles with defender on his hip and rose up for another slam.
Another was by that play in the fourth quarter, when the 6-foot-10 senior stepped behind the arc and swished a three-point jumper.
"My first one this year," Holloway said after Schalick's imposing 79-41 victory over Tri-County Diamond Division rival Woodstown on Tuesday night. "My first attempt, too."
But the best way to measure how far Holloway has come in his high school career was by the news that arrived before the game, when he learned that he has been nominated for the McDonald's All-American Game.
"It shows me that what I've been working for is coming," Holloway said of the honor.
Schalick coach Eric Cassidy, who has worked with Holloway since his freshman year, has another perspective on his burly center's inclusion on the list that includes the best players in the country.
"A million to one against," Cassidy said of the odds that Holloway, as a freshman, would progress to this point.
Cassidy said Holloway was "raw" and "goofy" as a freshman.
Hollway doesn't disagree.
"Basketball wasn't my thing," Holloway said. "I just played because everybody else played."
Even when Holloway was struggling to make his way up and down the court as a ninth-grader, Cassidy said he was convinced that he was coaching a future standout player.
"I saw it," Cassidy said. "I had people close to me saying, 'What is he doing on the court?' But I saw it. He had good hands and good feet and you can't coach that."
Holloway said he decided to get serious with basketball after his sophomore year. There's no way of checking this, but chances are pretty good that every other player on the All-American nomination list was approaching the game with a purpose long before the end of his 10th-grade season.
But Holloway has made rapid improvement over the last two off-seasons, losing weight, gaining strength and agility, developing a better feel for the game. He signed with Massachusetts in November.
"ESPN has him as the No. 50 center in the country," Cassidy said. "If you told me that his freshman year, I never would havebelieved it. It's like night and day. And it's all because of how hard he worked."
Holloway finished with 17 points, eight rebounds and four blocks as Schalick improved to 5-0.
Senior guard Melvin Allen, who is drawing recruiting interest from Division III programs such as Cabrini and Stockton, scored 15 with four steals, and 6-7 junior Michael Holloway, Rashaan's brother, added 16 points and seven rebounds.
Senior Tariq Thomas scored 11 with eight rebounds for Woodstown (3-3), which was missing leading scorer Jayson Hankins, who is out indefinitely with a knee injury.
Woodstown coach Jeff Podolski has seen Rashaan Holloway's progress during the course of his career.
"He went from a basketball player to an athlete," Podolski said. "He has unbelievable hands for a big guy."
Cassidy believe Holloway is only scratching the surface of his potential.
"When he gets to college and gets with a strength and conditioning coach, the sky is the limit," Cassidy said.
Woodstown 16 6 12 7 -- 41
Schalick 11 22 21 25 -- 79
W: Nick Battle 9, Trevor Rosenbaum 9, Tariq Thomas 11, Sam Nowicki 3, Semaj Thomas 9.
S: Melvin Allen 15, DeAndre Solomon 14, Tyler Lundsford 5, Rashaan Holloway 17, Michael Holloway 16, Tariq Furbush 4, Shamirr Kennedy 2, Will Murphy 6.
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