Holden finds voice as leader for CSUB


Senior guard Rickey Holden scans the defense during a game against USC on Sunday, Nov. 25 at the Galen Center in Los Angeles. Holden leads the team with 4.4 assists per game this season. Photo courtesy of Robby Sanchez

Peter Castillo


Rickey Holden made a name for himself both on the football field and the basketball court during his time at Laurel High School in his native Mississippi.

He received offers from some Division I schools to play basketball. However, he spurned those offers and decided to stay close to home and attend Jones County Community College to be near his daughter who was born while he was still in high school.

“The D-I schools were trying to redshirt me, but I had a lot of [junior colleges] from around the area who wanted me to come play,” said Holden. “I went to Jones, which is like five minutes from my house, because I wanted to stay close to my daughter.”

Now a senior on the men’s basketball team here at CSU Bakersfield, the left-handed point guard has used the distance between himself and his three-year old daughter, who is still in Mississippi, as motivation.

“It’s hard at times, but she understands at the same time,” said Holden about being away from his daughter. “Every day we talk and I tell her I just got out of practice or what I’m doing. She knows I play basketball and go to school. She makes it a lot easier for me.”

Holden, a liberal studies major, is continuing to make a name for himself with the Roadrunners as he is averaging 10.9 points per game and a team-high 4.4 assists per game through Dec. 3.

He first caught the eye of CSUB Head Coach Rod Barnes during his time at Jones, where Holden’s head coach there was Raheem Lockhart, who played for Barnes at Ole Miss.

“I was in [junior college] and we were at one of our big tournaments,” said Holden about the first time he met Barnes. “He called my coach and we talked and he just showed me love ever since then.”

Seniors Rickey Holden and James Suber talk things over during a break in the action against USC on Sunday, Nov. 25 at the Galen Center.

Usually when a player makes the jump from junior college to D-I, there is an adjustment period as they adapt to the speed of the game. However, for Holden, this was not the case as he was immediately thrust into the starting lineup last season due to an early-season foot injury to incumbent point guard Brent Wrapp.

“Last year, [Holden] was searching, because he knew Brent was coming back,” said Barnes. “I think he was holding back some, but this year I think he’s got a better hold of our team.”

Holden went on to finish with averages of 10.7 points per game, 2.8 assists per game and 2.8 rebounds per game.

After Wrapp’s graduation, Holden became the team’s starting point guard going into this season. Holden, who has a quiet, mild-mannered demeanor, aimed to become a better leader and to be more vocal with his teammates.

“I think I’m progressing [as a leader],” said Holden. “I’m talking more and communicating more with my teammates. I’m not there yet, but I’m getting better.”

One of his teammates, sophomore guard and fellow Mississippi native Jarkel Joiner, has been impressed with Holden and his command of the team.

“This year, Rickey has become a true point guard,” said Joiner. “That’s my big brother. He leads us in practice and keeps everybody on their P’s and Q’s.”

When asked about who the most impactful player on both ends of floor was on the team, Barnes mentioned Holden’s name first.

Holden, who stands at 5 feet 10 inches, earned this praise from his coach by his work ethic.

“Rickey was a guy who already had a reputation for scoring,” said Barnes. “But then to be a two-way player means you have as much emphasis on the defensive end as you do on the offensive end.

Work ethic was instilled in Holden from a young age in Mississippi. He credited his father for molding him into a good person, while his uncle, doubled as his personal trainer when he was growing up.

“He was my trainer and my uncle at the same time,” said Holden. “I never had to pay for a trainer or anything. He would just do it for free.”

All of Holden’s hard work has paid off this season as he is averaging a team-high 29.1 minutes per game. He is also shooting over 40 percent from 3-point range through Dec. 3.

“Just the command he has of our team,” said Barnes on Holden’s success this year. “He has a little more aggression about him when we need him.”

With hopes to continue his basketball career after his time at CSUB, Holden just wants to keep making his family proud and do well for his daughter.

Senior guard Rickey Holden scans the defense during a game against USC on Sunday, Nov. 25 at the Galen Center in Los Angeles. Holden leads the team with 4.4 assists per game this season.
Photos courtesy of Robby Sanchez