Small stature, knee injuries fail to hinder Holt’s freshman year

Cody Erbacher

Freshman Randal Holt is the shortest player on the roster, and he’s had surgeries on both of his knees, which kept him from finishing the final games of his high school senior season.

Normally that type of player wouldn’t be in a leadership position of a Division 1 basketball team.

But Holt is doing just that without missing a step.

“It’s not easy for a freshman to assume a leadership role, especially when you got upper-class guys playing with them,” Kent State coach Geno Ford said. “It’s a tough assignment anytime you’re a freshman playing the point.

“Other guys just get to worry about what their assignment is, and he has to worry about what everybody’s assignment is. And then you mix in the fact that most of our wings are seniors.”

Holt suffered two knee injuries in the past two years, one of which kept him out of his last six high school career games.

“At first it bothered me a lot — I always thought about it,” Holt said. “But at the end of the day I thought about it like, ‘High school is not going to be the last of me. I’m going to continue my game further and try to pick up where I left off at Kent State.’”

During Holt’s senior season of basketball, he averaged 24.8 points per game, following his junior year, when he was ranked the 32nd best point guard in the country by

The recruiting staff at Kent State knew Holt had potential at the college level, which is why they jumped on the opportunity to sign him in November before his senior year.

The second surgery on his right knee occurred this season, but Holt said he wasn’t worried about losing his spot in the lineup.

“I was kind of angry that it did happen to me again,” he said. “I’m not really worried about minutes right now. When we’re in practice I just play my game and show the coach what I’m capable of, and I know they have faith in me.”

Holt said his knee is not at its complete strength yet, but he has noticed steady improvement.

“I just try to strengthen it every day,” he said. “It’s getting there. I’m probably at 80-85 percent right now.”

Adding to the list of things Holt had to overcome is his size. At 6-foot-1, Holt is the shortest player on the team. What he lacks in size, Holt said only drives him to be a more determined player on the court.

“I have the type of mentality where I’m going to come in and do all the little things, do all the scrappy things, just to bring the intensity of the game up,” he said.

Contact sports reporter Cody Erbacher at [email protected].