“After all this, I felt like I could play pro,” he said. “I’ve been feeling I could play pro this whole year. I wasn’t going to consider it until after my senior year. Unfortunately, I have to go early.”
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De Pierce is on the phone talking about opportunities, second chances and the mindset of young athletes in general, but mostly he is talking about how Chad Gray – one of his former AAU basketball players – found his way to Coastal Carolina.
CCU athletic director Hunter Yurachek said through associate athletic director for media relations Mike Cawood that he had not seen any official paperwork yet but that Holloway had indicated to the athletic administration his intentions to sign with an agent. Because the NCAA investigation remains ongoing, he could not comment further.
Martha Hunn, director of news and public affairs for CCU, also said the university would be unable to comment.
Holloway, who averaged a Big South-best 18.5 points in his lone season with the Chanticleers, was suspended February 17, and it was soon revealed in a New York Times report that the NCAA was looking into whether he received impermissible benefits as a transfer from Wabash Valley College (Ill.).
Holloway confirmed the investigation — or at least part of it — concerned a Coastal Carolina shirt he received.
“That’s what it’s basically over — t-shirts and money and stuff,” he said. “They were accusing me of getting money and stuff to come here and play. It wasn’t true at all.”
He said he repaid the value of the shirt and denies receiving any money from the program. He said he couldn’t comment on how much money he repaid and did not want to share many details because the investigation was still ongoing.
“I thought I was going to get reinstated,” he said. “I paid for the stuff. I mean, after I did that, I thought I was going to be cleared.”
He also said he had not heard anything about his status for next season before making his decision.
“I’m sure if I would have stayed and stuck out with it, I could have played, sat out the first [few] games of the season,” he said.
But he decided not to wait.
“I just felt I could play professional basketball,” he said.
After helping Coastal Carolina to 22 straight wins — at the time, the longest active winning streak in Division I basketball — Holloway was later suspended with three games left in the regular season.
Speaking over the phone Thursday, his frustration was clear.
“I was really disappointed,” he said. “I’d been with the team the whole year, and at the end of the season the NCAA comes and takes everything I worked my whole life to get to in Division I basketball. They just come and take it away from me like that. It was very disappointing for me personally.”
He watched from the bench as his team then lost in the Big South championship game, ending the Chants’ quest for an NCAA tournament bid.
“It was hard for me to not be out there playing,” he said. “I should have been out there playing because I didn’t do anything wrong. I couldn’t understand that. I didn’t do anything wrong. It was hurting everybody that I couldn’t be out there playing.”
He said after being suspended, he was talking to the NCAA about every other day for two to three weeks.
“All I know is when I came here, I didn’t do anything wrong,” Holloway said. “I came here, did everything the right way, everything I was supposed to do. All I know is that at the end of the year, I just get suspended for nothing basically.”
“I didn’t get any money,” he reiterated, when asked.
Holloway said he is still on campus at Coastal Carolina, still enrolled and attending classes and hopes to finish out the semester. Meanwhile, he’s ready to see what options are out there for him as a professional.
“To be honest, I’m pretty sure I can get on with a team,” Holloway said. “I’ve been feeling I can play with the best of the best for the longest time, and this is my chance to do it.”