Nia Holloway, a 6-foot senior forward from Eden Prairie (MN) High, committed to Minnesota last October. She is ranked as the fifth-best senior in Minnesota by Prep Hoops.
Holloway is part of a four-player recruiting class of local talent that are ranked as the second, third, fourth and fifth best players in the state. She will join Chaska forward Mallory Heyer, Wayzata guard Mara Braun and Amaya Battle from Hopkins at Minnesota.
Holloway averaged 13.8 points and 7.2 rebounds per game this past season, scoring in double figures in 14 of 16 games. She had three games of 20 points or more points, including 24 against Chanhassen. Hopkins finished 14-6, losing to Minnetonka 57-52 in the section 2AAAA semifinals.
Battle averaged 8.7 points and 6.9 rebounds per game as a sophomore with a season-high of 15 points versus Eden Prairie. The Eagles lost to Lakeville North in the Class AAAA consolation game.
GopherHole caught up with Holloway Monday to learn more about her decision to attend Minnesota and her upcoming senior season.
GopherHole: You committed to Minnesota a while ago. What was the main reason that you decided that the Gophers was where you wanted to play?
Nia Holloway: A lot of it was just closeness. I’m really close with my family and I have a lot of friends here and I’d love to see if the younger kids in the organization can come and watch me play.
GopherHole: Coach Whalen has made getting the top in-state girls to stay in Minnesota a priority. You play in the same conference as two of those girls and the third is from nearby Chaska. Is that something that appealed to you to be that “instate girl” that would stay close to home and get the program back to where it has been in the past?
Nia Holloway: Yeah, definitely. I think that once Mallory committed before me, I was “Wow, that would be really cool, if I committed, too,” and then we got talking to Mara and we were like “Wow, if Mara committed,” and then we were like if “Amaya committed” and then we all had the same idea to build up the program.
GopherHole: You guys are all from the Twin Cities west suburbs. Is that nice since you have seen and play with or against a lot of those girls?
Nia Holloway: I played for the first time with Mara this last AAU season and that was a lot of fun and we have all played against each other for a really long time, so it will be really fun to play together.
GopherHole: Is that nice you have that relationship with Mara having played together in AAU and you can see how things could work at the next level?
Nia Holloway: Definitely.
GopherHole: How pleased were you with the AAU season?
Nia Holloway: I was really pleased. I thought it was a lot of fun. I think we really held our own against some really good competition out there, especially once we started traveling, so I was really happy with my AAU season.
GopherHole: I think here we know that Minnesota has a lot of good basketball players, but do you feel that when you go to other states, people might see that you are from Minnesota and assume that you can’t be that good?
Nia Holloway: You can definitely tell that we weren’t like all the EYBL teams that we were playing against. You could tell that we were underestimated a little bit at times, so we really used that to our advantage, so that was really nice.
GopherHole: I know that all four of the commits are planning on making their official visit the same weekend. Has that been set up yet?
Nia Holloway: We are planning to do our official sometime in October, I believe and it is going to be all four of us, so we are really excited for that.
GopherHole: Minnesota hasn’t been what they want to be under Coach Whalen so far, which is one of the reasons they have been working so hard to recruit some top players like yourself. What have you seen from the program and the improvement that they have made under Coach Whalen that gets you excited about you being there?
Nia Holloway: I think my favorite part about what Coach Whalen has done is the culture that she has brought. She has really made it feel like a team, a really collected team, so I think that is what I am most excited for.
GopherHole: I think that all four of you are very talented, but have different skills where you can play together. Is that something that appeals to you, too, that you can see how all four of you can be on the court together at the same time?
Nia Holloway: Yes, definitely.
GopherHole: What are some of the things you like to do when you are away from the basketball court?
Nia Holloway: I actually do track and field at the high school. I do high jump, shot put, 200 and the 4 x 200 relay, so that was really fun. I am also involved in a lot of clubs at Eden Prairie. I am a leader in our anti-racism organization. I am a leader in Black Student Union, which is really fun. I just started that club a few years ago, so that was really cool. I’m in FCA, which is Fellowship of Christian Athletes, DECA and Young Democrats.
GopherHole: You are a multi-sport athlete. Do you think that helps you a lot because you are working on your leaping, running and explosiveness as a basketball player?
Nia Holloway: Definitely, especially with keeping me in shape in the offseason, especially this next season since I’m not going to have AAU. I’m really excited to put my all into track so that I can really focus on my quickness, speed and agility.
GopherHole: What are the expectations for Eden Prairie this year?
Nia Holloway: I think that we have good chance of making to state this year. It just really depends on how we can work together this year, especially we lost a few seniors, but we brought a few people back from injuries, so I think it is just adjustments that we need to be making.
GopherHole: You probably play in the best conference in the state with Hopkins, Wayzata and Edina. How much do you think that helps you playing great competition night in, night out?
Nia Holloway: It definitely helps, because no matter what we are always playing against somebody that is good, so it really helps us and it pushes us, so that there is never going to be a stretch where you are just blowing out teams or getting blown out. It is really good.
GopherHole: You lost to Minnetonka in the section semifinals. You are in one of the best sections with Minnetonka and Chaska. It is going to be a tough road, but what would it mean to get to the state tournament as a senior?
Nia Holloway: That would be amazing, especially with my last run. My last high school chance, so I really hope that we can do this year.