Khari Holloway is confident in his abilities on the basketball court and he had no reason to believe otherwise.

He has been starting for the Mountain Pointe boys basketball team since he was a sophomore and has had the ball in his hand at the end of games while leading teams to victories along with hearing mostly from Division II or lower college basketball programs.

Holloway entered his senior year knowing most nights he was going to be the best player on the court. Add in the fact that he’s played against most of the opposition between club ball and the high school game, and it created a level of comfort.

It didn’t change his intensity level or motivation by any means. There was just an ease to his approach.

Then the Pride landed in Kentucky before Christmas and found a different level of basketball being played.

“Everything was quicker and everyone can play above the rim,” he said. “It was unbelievable. By the second game, I knew I had to be better. These were ranked nationally and they could do it all.”

Since then Holloway has been a different player. He’s always been able to score — as evidence by his 18.5 points a game average as a junior — but his attitude received a jolt as well.

“I always expected a lot from myself, but that showed me I could do more,” said Holloway, who averaged 27.3 points a game soon after that. “In Arizona it’s the same thing over and over again. Out there it was something different and in the second game I started getting my mind clear and just started playing ball.”

The new approach has Pride coach Aaron Windler asking for more of it.

“Whatever it was it was a good thing,” Windler said. “I don’t know if it was the caliber of team or being with the team the whole time (on the road) that inspired him, but he just has been a different kid.”

It led to the Pride’s best streak of the season as it won three in row — the last game in Kentucky and the first two against Arizona competition — before facing three straight top five programs in Desert Mountain, Brophy and Corona del Sol to drop Mountain Pointe to 6-7. In between the loses to Desert Mountain and Corona del Sol was an impressive 72-48 win over Brophy.

It is clear Mountain Pointe is still trying to find a rhythm in Windler’s first season, but it is even more clear the Pride has come together since Holloway was moved back to his natural position of point guard after spending some time as the shooting guard early in the season.

“It was strange trying to acclimate,” said Holloway, who is averaging 18.3 points, 3.5 rebounds, 2.0 assists and 1.0 steals a game. “I was hesitant because it was unfamiliar, but I wanted to do what was best for the team. Now we are getting in a groove.”

Holloway, whose uncle Maurice Carter played at Louisiana State and overseas and had a 10-game stint in the NBA in 2003-04, has heard mostly from smaller colleges like Division II Minnesota-Duluth but received a recent feeler from LSU when he had 17 points, nine rebounds and eight assists against McClintock.

“He can play at the college level, no doubt,” Windler said. “He’ll get there.”

Senior teammate Tre Campbell, who has known Holloway since they were 5, said he has noticed the difference in Holloway as well, especially as a leader.

“He can be goofy, but when something needs to be said he has really stepped up,” Campbell said. “He’s a good leader.”

Windler coached against the Pride when he was at Chaparral and Holloway was a sophomore. He didn’t know all that much about Holloway other than the fact that he was “a player.”

Now, he knows the 6-foot-1, 180-pounder can carry the load.

“He’s a competitor who is tough enough to play through bumps and bruises,” Windler said, “He is starting to buy into what we are preaching and I see him taking this team as far as we can go.”

Contact writer: (480) 898-7915 or Follow him on Twitter @JSkodaAFN.

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