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Sometimes the dream arrives before you go to sleep. Former BU basketball star John Holland was about to take a nap April 10 when the call came from his agent: the Boston Celtics want you.
The very next day, the Celts signed Holland (CGS’09, COM’11) to a two-year contract, bringing the 6-foot-5-inch Terrier forward up from the National Basketball Association’s minor league, where he has been playing for the Canton Charge.
Walking into TD Garden on April 11 for his first game as Number 30 was “like a dream come true,” Holland said at a pregame press conference. “I was so happy and so grateful to be with the Celtics, one of the best organizations in the history of the game. I’m just honored.”
Asked if he’d believed he could make the NBA while playing in the minors, he said with a laugh, “You have no choice but to believe it. Of course I believe it can happen. That’s what you’re down there for.…Money is good, but sometimes it’s about the dream.”
As a senior in 2011, Holland was named America East Player of the Year after leading the squad to the NCAA tournament. He broke the University’s record for minutes played and was second in points scored (2,212) during his BU career.
“When I heard about this, the most gratifying piece was that he’s a good kid,” says Drew Marrochello, director of BU Athletics. “I remember John Holland single-handedly winning the game to beat Stony Brook in the America East championship—and that night going to root for the women’s basketball team and sitting in the stands.”
After graduation, Holland played in overseas leagues in France, Spain, and Turkey. He also saw duty in the NBA’s summer league and had a training-camp stint with the league’s San Antonio Spurs.
Holland’s “presence adds emergency depth and, maybe most importantly, shooting to the roster,” an ESPN correspondent writes about Holland’s potential contribution to the Celts. “He’s the fourth-oldest player on the roster and his experience overseas could help him nurture younger guards…”
Playing for Canton, Holland “averaged 16 points on 52 percent shooting over 30.2 minutes per game in 37 appearances” this season, according to ESPN. “He put up big numbers as Canton ousted the Maine Red Claws…from the opening round of the playoffs….” That performance is what Celtics Coach Brad Stevens noticed—especially as the Red Claws are Boston’s minor league affiliate.
“He brings shooting. He brings pretty good size (6-5, 205 pounds) for a perimeter player, he brings the ability to switch, and he’s another we can add as depth, should we need some perimeter depth,” Stevens said in a statement.
Holland grew up in the Bronx and began playing basketball competitively in the sixth grade. He developed a passion for the game from his father, John Holland, Sr., a retired schoolteacher, who played basketball as an Iona College undergraduate. The younger Holland was a star player at Fordham Preparatory School in the Bronx and then played at St. Benedict’s Preparatory School in New Jersey, where he did a postgraduate year before coming to BU.