Even at 6-foot-3 in sneakers — which is how you usually play basketball, anyway — Stephan Holm never had much trouble jumping or, as a result of the jumping, dunking.
But without the other skills that complete a basketball player, jumping is just a novelty.
Two years ago, the Riverton senior was closer to that than what he is now — an emerging Division 1 recruit who this summer is using tournaments, like this week’s Big Mountain Jam in Sandy, to draw the attention of more college coaches.
“I used to have a couple friends,” Holm said. “We would just go to the gym from 10 o’clock in the morning to 10 o’clock at night.”
In the world of basketball recruiting, there are really two kinds of players: locks, players like Lone Peak’s Nick Emery who had scholarship offers as a sophomore, and fringe players who could just as easily end up at a junior college or Division II as a Division I school. Holm is battling to transition from the latter into the former.
He has developed into a balanced combo guard. Shooting, previously a weakness, has become the quality that has most attracted attention from UC-Davis, the one school that has offered him a scholarship, as well as Utah State, Southern California and Nevada, which have expressed interest in him.
“A couple of years ago, I wouldn’t have considered him a shooter,” Riverton coach Steve Galley said. “I would have considered him more of a scorer. But now I consider him both.”
A three-year starter for the Silverwolves, Holm upped his average to 13 points per game last year. This summer, he has played in tournaments with Riverton and AAU team Utah Pump-N-Run. It was with Pump-N-Run at tournaments in Los Angeles and Las Vegas that he caught the eyes of USC coach Kevin O’Neill and Nevada coaches.
Pump-N-Run coach Todd Phillips, also the head coach at Salt Lake Community College, said Holm has broken loose this summer and is averaging about 18 points per game.
While college coaches have spent the past two summers drooling over guards such as Emery (committed to BYU) and East’s Parker Van Dyke (Utah), Holm has emerged and entered the conversation.
“He’s always been right there below them,” Phillips said, “but as people watch, they’re like ‘What does he not do that those guys do?’ ”
Reserved to a point just short of shyness, Holm in regular life is the opposite of his basketball persona. He and his family moved half a dozen times as he grew up, from Utah to Idaho to Canada to Idaho to Utah. They have been in Riverton for four years, and there Holm has grown up as a basketball player.
“On the court,” Galley said, “supreme confidence.”
Holm will play with his Riverton teammates, rather than Pump-N-Run, at the Big Mountain Jam, which begins today at the South Towne Exposition Center. Holm acknowledged that he feels some pressure playing for his basketball future, trying to convince coaches that he is worth a scholarship.
“I think all the kids feel a little pressure at these things,” Galley said, “because nowadays that’s where the college coaches congregate.”
For Holm, there’s something exciting about the unknown, the idea that any one person could see him and send him on another move to a new part of the country. His future is not, in basketball terms, a slam dunk.
“Wherever he goes,” Galley said, “the people are going to love him.”
Holm lived throughout the Western United States and Canada before his family settled in Riverton four years ago.
The Silverwolves basketball star has been a starter since he was a sophomore and will play with the team at this week’s Big Mountain Jam.
He has turned heads this summer averaging about 18 points per game for Utah Pump-N-Run.
Big Mountain Jam
Thursday through Saturday at South Towne Exposition Center