NCS Junior of the Year
JADA HOLLAND, BISHOP O'DOWD
Jada Holland, Bishop O’Dowd’s super 5’6” point guard, played with a heart and hustle that seemed to reflect the Dragons’ spirit perfectly. Holland stepped up big with a game-high 24 points, including 16 in the fourth quarter, in O’Dowd’s NCS Division II title-winning game versus Miramonte. Then the West Alameda County Conference awarded her the Player of the Year for the Foothill Division. Those accomplishments capped a strong campaign in which she averaged 15.7 points, 5.3 assists, 4.5 steals, 3.0 rebounds, and 1.7 blocks per game.
“She became a captain this year and learned how to be a more complete point guard, and she continued to build on her solid basketball IQ,” Bishop O’Dowd coach Malik McCord said.
Bishop O’Dowd swept league play, and despite struggling in December, ended up with a 19-11 record. Zakiya Mahoney and Holland were a formidable duo, with Mahoney gobbling up rebounds down low and providing the lone senior voice on a young team. Holland added to the vocal leadership, and as floor general was responsible for jump-starting the offense, whether it be finding Mahoney in the post, spotting one of several wings for an open shot, or simply taking it herself – which she could do capably from distance, or by fearlessly driving through the thick of the defense.
“Offensively Jada grew by being able to finish at the rim consistently with either hand and developed a mid-range pull up that is nice as well,” McCord commented, adding that her three-point shooting improved.
On the other end of the court, Holland proved to be a nuisance for her opponents, another attribute McCord is quick to recognize.
“Jada is an elite defender on and off the ball and that has translated to her almost five steals a game,” McCord stated. “But what she added to her game this year was the ability to block shots…(she) has good leaping ability, long arms, and great timing.”
Holland’s role on the team changed perhaps more than any other Dragon from last year to this one, as she played without current University of San Diego starter and 2017 NCS Female Basketball Player of the Year Myah Pace.
“She always has had leadership qualities, but as a growing young lady, she did not recognize this or know how to utilize what she is naturally blessed with,” McCord adds. “This year she would ask me…how to be a better leader and she took our conversations and tried to apply them.”
Holland had a solid outing versus eventual CIF Open Division State Champion Windward with 14 points and seven assists. While the Dragons’ own hopes at the state level were dashed quickly by Mitty, they had a more successful season than perhaps expected because of the growth of their junior floor general, Jada Holland.
“Jada’s ceiling is high,” her coach concludes. “Whatever college Jada chooses, they are not just getting an excellent player, but one hell of a young lady.”
Other players considered for this award include St. Joseph Notre Dame’s Zhane Duckett, Cardinal Newman’s Avery Cargill, and Heritage’s Jordan Sweeney.