Holmes ready to carry on family legacy after name change

photo courtesy of gobonnies.sbu.edu

By Jeff Uveino

ST. BONAVENTURE, NY — When Jaren Holmes graduated from high school, his principal gave him two diplomas.

One diploma was awarded to Jaren English, the familiar Romulus High School basketball guard who had led the Eagles to the Michigan Class A state semifinals. English, as he was known, would go on to play at Ranger Community College in Texas before transferring to St. Bonaventure.

 The other diploma was awarded to Jaren Holmes. 

And, while Bona fans got to know him as Jaren English last season, in his heart, he was already Jaren Holmes.

“I was always going to change my name as soon as I got settled,” Holmes said. “After junior college and signing here with the Bonnies, it was set in stone.”

Holmes’ desire to change his name came long before he arrived at SBU. His younger brother, William, had wanted to change his last name to reflect his mother’s since he was 15. However, the two were each in the middle of their respective athletic recruitment processes at the time.

For Jaren, it was basketball. For William, baseball.

“For my brother’s 16th birthday, he wanted to change his name,” Holmes said. “I didn’t know if I really wanted to do it because it was kind of shaky for me recruitment-wise. I didn’t know what my future held. I had gone by English my whole life.”

When the two went to their mother, Gia, with the idea, she had her reservations on the name change, as well.

“My mom thought it would be best to wait until we’re older so that my father couldn’t contest it and make sure that we keep the name, even though he hasn’t done anything for us,” Holmes said. “The type of person that he is, to have two sons directly 10 minutes away from him and you never see them for 21 years and 19 years, I knew the type of dude that he was. I knew that he would try to contest it just to be spiteful to my mom.”

Gia Holmes also required that if either Jaren or William wanted to change their last name to Holmes, the other would have to do so, as well.

“She didn’t want one son to have English and one son to have Holmes,” Jaren Holmes said. “She wanted to show that me and him worked together on this.”

Holmes recalled going out to dinner with his brother for William’s 16th birthday. As the two sat at their table, Holmes said, he found out just how much it meant to William to have his mother’s last name. 

“(William) said, if you don’t want to do it, I understand,” Holmes said. “But this means more to me than anything in the world.”

His brother’s emotions, Holmes said, were powerful.

“He’s never been emotional when it comes to my father,” Holmes said. “When I saw him break down in that instant, I knew that this is what I’ve got to do.”

William Holmes’ baseball career had started to pick up at the time. He began getting scouted while playing at Western International High School in Detroit, and became aware that there was a good chance he would be drafted by a professional organization.

“I want to pay mom back, and I don’t want (our father) to have any ties to us in our careers,” Jaren Holmes recalled William saying. “That he can go and say, ‘those are my sons,’ and we have his last name.”

The two went back to their mother and told her that they were going to do it. Upon getting settled, they would each change their last name to Holmes.

Two years later, William was picked by the Los Angeles Angels in the fifth round of the 2018 Major League Baseball draft. After a year-long legal process, William changed his last name from English to Holmes. Jaren, while still committed to the agreement he made with his brother, would wait for his basketball career to progress before doing the same.

After a year at Ranger CC, Holmes arrived at SBU in the summer of 2019 with the intention of changing his name as soon as he could.

“As the first year came about, it was hard for me to do anything court related because I was in summer session and didn’t have the time to appear in court,” Holmes said. “Especially me being a first-year player here, I was trying to make a good impression.”

After a 2019-20 campaign during which he started 23 of 24 games played for SBU and averaged 11.9 points, 4.8 rebounds and 2.2 assists per game, Holmes knew that it was finally time to make the change.

“I let everybody that’s close to me know that my name was going to be Holmes next season,” Holmes said. “That was my main goal during this pandemic, was to make sure that my name was Holmes by the start of the season. I knew that (the fans and community) would accept me no matter what.”

Holmes’ court date, which would be held over Zoom, was scheduled for Sept. 30. His brother, mother and grandparents made the trip to listen to the hearing. As his family surrounded him in a hotel room, Holmes recalled the judge telling him that his request for a name change had been granted.

For the first time, he was legally Jaren Holmes.

“When the judge told me that, I saw my mom break down,” Holmes said. “My grandmother behind her broke down, and for the first time, I saw my grandfather cry. Everyone just kind of jumped on me, as if I was adopted. It felt like something had changed, but these are the same people that have been with me since day one.”

Holmes said that as his mom held him in that moment, he knew that he had done the right thing. 

“That moment with my family was probably greater than any basketball moment I had ever been in,” Holmes said. “Bigger than any game I’ve ever played in. Bigger than any situation, bigger than any big shot. It just felt like my path led me to this and I was finally coming into who I was supposed to be all along.”

Holmes recalled the countless hours that his mother had spent helping her sons pursue their athletic careers. Her, along with Holmes’ grandfather and his late uncle John, he said, had collectively filled the role of father figure for Jaren growing up.

“My mother has done literally everything for me,” Holmes said. “Stretching herself as thin as you can think possible so that we can be happy. That right there, on a teacher’s salary, supporting two boys who play completely different sports… without her, I wouldn’t be playing here at Bonaventure.”

Just as Holmes’ family has supported and assisted him with his basketball career, they have encouraged him to follow another passion: broadcasting.

“When I was younger, I always watched ESPN,” Holmes said. “I loved sports. My mom and my grandparents always said, Jaren, you would be good at that.”

Holmes, now a sports media major, loves baseball as much as he does basketball. He grew up a Tigers fan, but now roots for the Angels because of his brother.

“I always knew I wanted to be a sports broadcasting major, and I always wanted to be a sports journalist because I love talking about sports,” Holmes said. “As I found out this year, what goes on behind the scenes is much broader and harder than I could have ever expected.”

Holmes regularly appears as a reporter and anchor on SBU-TV, the university’s student-run television broadcast that airs live each Friday while school is in session. He hopes that once he’s done playing basketball, broadcasting will be a way for him to stay involved with the game.

“I feel like I have a knack for it,” Holmes said. “For being on television and being on camera. Does it sometimes interfere with basketball? Yeah. But my mom never complained, so I’m not going to complain.”

Whether it’s on the basketball court or in front of the video camera, Holmes hopes that he can now carry on his grandfather’s legacy since changing his name.

“William and I see it as a chance to rebuild our family tree,” Holmes said. “It’s an honor to represent my mom, and represent my grandfather.”

Now in his second season at SBU, Holmes is optimistic and satisfied with where he’s at.

“Honestly, I couldn’t be happier,” Holmes said. “I love going by the name Holmes. My brother and I made a pact at that dinner that night that we would carry on that legacy no matter what. We would always be the men that our mom would try to raise us to be.”

Atlantic 10 tournament preview: Bona enters as No. 5 seed; faces tough road back to final

photo courtesy of gobonnies.sbu.edu

By Jeff Uveino

BROOKLYN, NY — For the first time since 2017, the St. Bonaventure men’s basketball team will have to play on Thursday in the Atlantic 10 tournament.

After an 11-7 regular season in the A10, Bona is the No. 5 seed at the conference tournament, which will take place at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York, from March 11-15.

The Bonnies dropped their season finale to Saint Louis last Saturday, which erased their hopes of a top-four seed and a double-bye through the first two rounds of the tournament. A win in the game would have landed Bona at No. 4, meaning it would not have had to play until Friday.

“Two of the last four teams that have won (the tournament) have played on Thursday,” Bona head coach Mark Schmidt said. “It’s not like no one has done it. You’ve just got to be playing well and get some momentum. It’s ‘game seven’ for the next four games, and hopefully we can win those game sevens.”

A year ago, Bona fell just short of winning the tournament, after making a run to the championship game as the No. 4 seed and letting a late-game lead slip away to Saint Louis in the championship game.

Bona returns three starters from that team, including now-sophomore Dominick Welch, who averaged 12 points and seven rebounds per game in three A10 tournament games a year ago. Welch scored 20 points in Bona’s quarterfinal win over George Mason.

“It gives me confidence knowing how well I played there,” Welch said. “We’ve let the new guys know that it wasn’t easy, and we’ll really have to prepare. Last year, we got off to a slow start because we weren’t used to the setting and the rims, so (we need to) make sure we get our shots up and are prepared.”

Schmidt said that the experience his team got playing deep into the tournament a year ago can only help it this time around.

“It certainly won’t be a negative,” Schmidt said. “They played well in pressure situations, and the more experience you get the better you’re going to be.”

Kyle Lofton and Osun Osunniyi, both sophomores, also started all three tournament games for the Bonnies a year ago. Lofton averaged over 16 points per game to earn him all-tournament team honors, while Osunniyi averaged seven points and eight rebounds per game.

This year, Bona’s path back to the championship game is anything but easy.

SBU will play either No. 12 George Mason or No. 13 St. Joseph’s at 2:30 p.m. on Thursday, with No. 4 Saint Louis awaiting the winner on Friday.

“It’s one game, and we can’t worry about what’s happening on Friday, Saturday or Sunday,” Schmidt said. “If you lose you go home, so our mindset is to prepare the best we can for St. Joe’s or George Mason.”

Then, if the Bonnies can beat the same SLU team that thrashed them, 72-49, on Saturday, they’ll set up a date with No. 1 Dayton on Saturday afternoon.

For players that weren’t around for last year’s tournament run, such as Jaren English, the opportunity to win a championship is exciting.

“We have the opportunity to win a championship, which would band us together as a team here forever,” English said. “Everybody talks about the 2012 team with (Andrew) Nicholson, and it would be a great honor to be talked about as we go on in our careers and come back to Bonaventure.”

The sophomore guard has college postseason experience, as he helped lead Ranger Community College to the National Junior College Athletic Association Division I championship game a year ago.

English has since had a breakout year for the Bonnies, averaging nearly 12 points per game this season.

“We want to get down there and show people that they can’t cross us off of their list,” English said. “We’ve got high hopes and we believe that we can win, and that’s all you really need.”

Bona’s game on Thursday will be broadcasted on NBC Sports Network, as will its quarterfinal game if the Bonnies advance to Friday.

“Preparation is important, but you’ve got 24 hours after they play,” Schmidt said. “So, the preparation isn’t going to be as important as just going out and playing, and doing what you do best.”

Below is the complete tournament bracket.

Duquesne gets revenge, beats Bonnies in overtime

photo courtesy of gobonnies.sbu.edu

By Jeff Uveino

ST. BONAVENTURE, NY — Two and a half weeks ago, the St. Bonaventure men’s basketball team outlasted Duquesne on the road.

On Wednesday night at the Reilly Center, the Dukes returned the favor.

Duquesne survived a late-game Bona comeback before forcing overtime and beating the Bonnies, 81-77.

Sincere Carry found himself at the free throw line in multiple game-changing scenarios for the Dukes, including when he hit two free throws to force overtime.

Then, with six seconds left in the extra stanza and Duquesne leading by two, the sophomore guard hit two more free throws to end Bona’s hopes of last-minute magic.

Carry finished with 18 points, including four in the overtime period.

“I thought Duquesne got off to a better start and had more energy than us in the first half, but our guys really responded coming out of halftime,” Bona head coach Mark Schmidt said. “We took the lead and then it was back and forth, but we had our opportunities.”

Michael Hughes, who was matched up with Bona center Osun Osunniyi for much of the game, also had 18 points.

“I thought Hughes hurt us at the end of the game,” Schmidt said. “He had two or three jump hooks. He didn’t have his best game, but he’s a great player.”

Hughes had four points in the final two minutes of regulation, as well as a big bucket with less than two minutes left in overtime.

“(Hughes) knows how to play in the post and he has good moves,” Osunniyi said. “I gave him too much position inside and he got some easy buckets later in the game, which hurt us a lot.”

Osunniyi had 23 points and 13 rebounds of his own, shooting 10-for-15 from the field.

“They out-toughed us in the first half, and we tried to play harder in the second half,” Osunniyi said. “When you play a good team like that, you can’t have mental lapses.”

Neither team helped itself offensively, as the Bonnies and Dukes combined to shoot 27 percent from 3-point range and 60 percent from the free throw line. Each team forced 16 turnovers.

“They made one more play than we did,” Schmidt said. “We had a great game against them (on the road) and we had another great one against them tonight, but we came out on the short end this time.”

Jaren English had 15 points for the Bonnies, while Kyle Lofton scored 14 points.

English was forced into Lofton’s usual point guard position late in regulation when Lofton went down with an apparent ankle injury, but the sophomore was able to come back into the game after a minimal stint on the bench.

Dominick Welch picked up his sixth double-double of the season, as he scored 10 points to go along with 14 rebounds.

Lamar Norman Jr. put up 14 points for the Dukes, while Tavian Dunn-Martin, who lit up Bona in the teams’ first matchup, finished with nine points.

“You have to pick your poison with them,” Schmidt said. “Do you double team Hughes and then give up open three’s, or guard him straight up?”

The win was monumental for Duquesne’s Atlantic 10 tournament seeding hopes, as the Dukes moved to 9-6 in the league and 19-8 overall, good enough for a share of fifth place.

SBU fell to 10-5 in the A10 and 18-10 overall. The Bonnies now sit in fourth place in the A10, after Richmond defeated George Washington on Wednesday night to move to 11-3.

Up next for Bona is a Saturday trip to La Salle, where tip off is scheduled for 2 p.m.

“We have competitive guys in our locker room and they’re upset that we lost,” Schmidt said. “We’ll come back in 24 hours and get ready for La Salle. That’s always been the mentality.”

Lofton’s big shot leads Bonnies to road win over Duquesne

photo courtesy of gobonnies.sbu.edu

By Jeff Uveino

MOON TOWNSHIP, PA — When Sincere Carry tied the game, all of the momentum was in Duquesne’s favor.

The Dukes had completed a 9-0 run after trailing for the entire second half, and prompted a hearty roar from a rowdy UPMC Events Center crowd.

However, St. Bonaventure guard Kyle Lofton didn’t seem to mind.

With 1:14 left in the game, Lofton nailed a three-pointer to put the Bonnies men’s basketball team up for good on its way to an 83-80 win over the Dukes on Saturday afternoon.

“I knew I was going to be the one to shoot it,” Lofton said. “In that type of moment, the coaches trust me. They depended on me, so I was confident and I stuck it.”

The shot was just one of many big-time offensive plays in the game, as the teams traded blows the whole way in front of a crowd that featured a sea of both Bona’s brown and white, and the blue and red of the Dukes.

Lofton hit five of his six shot attempts from beyond the arc. He finished with 21 points and seven assists.

“The thing I was most proud of was that whenever they made a play, we answered,” Bona head coach Mark Schmidt said. “To be able to do that against a really good team shows that we’re growing.”

Seven players reached double-digit scoring in the game, and the teams combined to shoot 24-for-54 from beyond the arc (44 percent).

 Jaren English scored 15 points for the Bonnies, the sixth time this season that he has reached that number.

Dom Welch added 14 points and nine rebounds, while Osun Osunniyi racked up 12 points and nine rebounds.

“I think (the win) shows our character and toughness, and what we can be in the future,” Lofton said. “We have guys that can score the ball, and it was good to have multiple guys in double figures.”

Duquesne’s three-point shooting kept it in the game the entire way, as the Dukes hit on 14-of-34 triples.

Tavian Dunn-Martin shot 7-for-15 on his own from beyond the arc on his way to a game-high 25 points.

After being held scoreless in the first half, Carry came alive in the second and finished with 17 points. Baylee Steele added 15 points for the Dukes.

“The game plan was to try to take away their inside game,” Schmidt said. “Even though they played really well, we still made the plays that we needed to make. Everybody did what they needed to do.”

With Osunniyi in foul trouble for much of the first half, Amadi Ikpeze played 15 minutes off the bench and put up four points to go with six rebounds. Osunniyi played just over 24 minutes.

The win boosted SBU to 16-8 overall, while Duquesne fell to 17-6 overall.

More importantly, it moved the Bonnies to 8-3 in Atlantic 10 play, while the Dukes fell to 7-4.

The teams will meet again at the Reilly Center on Feb. 26 in a game that could potentially have a large impact on seeding for the A-10 tournament in March.

However, Schmidt said that he isn’t looking that far ahead.

“You learn how to win by winning,” Schmidt said. “We can’t get satisfied and we can’t get comfortable.”

The Bonnies will travel to St. Joseph’s on Tuesday to play the Hawks, who are 0-9 in the A10.

Bonnies roll past George Washington

photo courtesy of gobonnies.sbu.edu

By Hayden Robinson

ST. BONAVENTURE, NY — An electric crowd at the Reilly Center always gives the Bonnies an advantage.

On Wednesday night, this advantage proved to be crucial, as the St. Bonaventure men’s basketball team secured a win against George Washington, 72-47.

Once SBU center Osun Osunniyi won the opening tip, it was off to the races.

The Bonnies started the game scorching hot with a 10-0 run in a balanced scoring effort. With George Washington reeling, their offense had to come from someone, and fast.

Despite a GW comeback that balanced the score, the Bonnies continued to torch their opponent with their balanced inside and outside scoring.

At the end of the first half, St. Bonaventure led 39-27.

George Washington kept the game close behind Jameer Nelson Jr.’s 14 points in the first half. He single-handedly brought the Colonials back after an abysmal start.

“In the first half, I didn’t think we played particularly well, especially defensively,” Bonnies head coach Mark Schmidt said. “But I thought that in the second half, we did a much better job of keeping them in front of us and contesting shots.”

St. Bonaventure would go on a run at the beginning of the second half that their opponent just couldn’t handle. The lead extended up to 26 points with just under seven minutes to play.

Bonnies guard Jaren English had himself a night, as well. He finished with 21 points, 12 of which came in the first half, and he shot 3-for-4 from beyond the arc.

“I’ve been working on my shot and getting in the gym extra,” English said. “I shot three for four, but I should have made the fourth one. I just have to get better, keep shooting and keep trusting in my progress and process.”

Osunniyi racked up 16 points for the Bonnies, while Dom Welch and Justin Winston scored 11 points each.

Jameer Nelson, Jr. carried the GW offense for most of the game, as he finished with 19 points. Jamison Battle added 13 points for the Colonials.

The win moved the Bonnies to 15-8 overall, and 7-3 in Atlantic 10 play. GW fell to 10-13 overall, and 4-6 in the A-10.

On Saturday, the Bonnies will travel down to Pennsylvania to take on the Duquesne Dukes.

The Dukes boast an overall record of 17-5, making this a tough matchup for the Bonnies.

Bonnies honor legends, beat Hofstra

photo courtesy of gobonnies.sbu.edu

By Jeff Uveino

ST. BONAVENTURE — Mark Schmidt described it perfectly.

On the day that the St. Bonventure men’s basketball team honored its legends, the Bonnies played arguably their best game of the season thus far, routing Hofstra at the Reilly Center on Saturday, 73-45.

“It couldn’t have been better,” Schmidt said. “It was a great day to be at Bonaventure and to be a Bonnie.”

SBU continued its celebration of the program’s 100th season by honoring its all-time team at half time, and celebrating its 1970 Final Four team after the game.

The Bonnies went on a 24-1 scoring run that Hofstra could not come back from.

Jaren English had a breakout offensive game for SBU, scoring 17 points and shooting 4-of-5 from three-point range.

English led a tremendous overall day for the Bona offense, which shot 49 percent from the field and 48 percent from beyond the arc.

Dom Welch also scored 17 points for the Bonnies, and Bobby Planutis scored 11 points and pulled down eight rebounds.

“We have good shooters,” Schmidt said. “It hadn’t been going well, but I thought we shot the ball much better in Florida (last week), and once the ball starts going in it helps your confidence.”

English said that Schmidt talks to the team every day about being ready to play, and that the Bonnies came out excited to play in front of the program’s legends.

“That’s why I came to Bonaventure, is to play in games like this,” English said. “I just want to bring toughness, win games and win championships.

“Coach Schmidt tells me what I need to do, and I do it.”

English, a sophomore guard in his first year at Bona’s after transferring from Ranger Community College in Texas, had averaged nine points per game over his first three appearances prior to Saturday.

“(English) shot the ball really well and he brings a different dimension to our team,” Schmidt said. “He shot 4-of-5 from three, and that was something that we didn’t have over our first three games.”

Osun Osunniyi had a promising game after battling a knee injury over the past few weeks. He scored eight points, pulled down 16 rebounds and blocked two shots.

Hofstra struggled offensively, shooting just under 28 percent from the field and 16 percent from three-point range.

Desure Buie scored 17 points for the Pride, and Eli Pemberton scored nine points.

Up next for the Bonnies is two more home games, as they’ll host Gannon next Saturday and Niagara on Dec. 18.

Bona will then go on the road to finish its non-conference schedule, with trips to Middle Tennessee State and Buffalo.

“We have a lot of inexperience and I don’t think we’re nearly where we need to be, but we’re learning,” Schmidt said. The more we get put in situations, the better we’ll be.”

English, a new face around SBU, seemed right at home when he talked about getting to meet the program’s legends.

“It’s an honor to be in their presence, with all the great things they’ve done for this program,” English said. “Coach Schmidt tells us all the time that we have to play for everyone in this town, and for the people who played before us. We did that today.”


Former JUCO star English brings big-game experience to Bonaventure

photo courtesy of gobonnies.sbu.edu

By Matt Stasiw

St. Bonaventure sophomore guard Jaren English has experience playing in high-level atmosphere. 

At Ranger College in Texas, English helped lead the Rangers to the 2019 National Junior College Athletic Association Division I national championship game. 

“It was crazy, mind boggling honestly”, English said of his team’s postseason run. “I got a lot of experience. No one expected us to come out and play, but we shocked the world”. 

The Rangers finished 31-4 last year, and English scored 12 points per game to go along with five rebounds per game.

English now realizes he can play a big role in helping the Bonnies win this season. 

“I need to be the most reliable and trustworthy guy I can be,” English said. “I’m all about the team.” 

English has high expectations for himself and the team. 

“Atlantic 10 title, NCAA tournament run”, he said.

Both are achievable for English if he plays tough. 

English said that he hopes to make his family proud, as well. 

My mom gave me her all,” he said. “I want to work a lot harder to make her proud when she can come and watch me play.”

English and the Bonnies will begin the year by hosting a preseason exhibition against Alfred University on Wednesday.