College basketball: Little guy dreams big at Chicago State

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, March 3, 2009

By Martha Irvine
Associated PressCHICAGO ó David Holston’s family never let his small stature stand in his way.
His grandmother balled two socks together and made a basketball rim out of a clothes hanger when he was just a toddler. He quickly graduated to plastic toy hoops and then, at age 7, to a 10-foot rim in the driveway of his parents’ Pontiac, Mich., home.
No matter how often the pint-sized boy asked him to lower it, his dad refused.
“You need to learn on regulation size,” Charles Holston said.
It wasn’t about pressure or punishment, they both say ó just preparation for the reality that was ahead.
“I had to deal with it,” the younger Holston says, shrugging. “That’s usually how it was.”
And how it is.
Today, though the team roster at Chicago State lists the senior guard at 5-foot-8, he’ll tell you frankly that he’s more like “5-6 and a half, or 5-7.”Short, yes ó but still a powerful presence on the court, ranked among the top five scorers nationally both in total points and points per game.
Deliberately named for the biblical giant-slayer, Holston is a David among the Goliaths ó unassuming and sometimes discounted because of his size but armed with a killer shot.
“I just have to play my game,” the soft-spoken 23-year-old is fond of saying, “and play harder than other people.”
For Holston, having to prove himself is nothing new. He’s known that since he spent hours at that driveway hoop perfecting his shot and pretending he was playing one-on-one games against former NBA star Penny Hardaway.Holston came to Chicago State, a commuter school on the city’s far South Side, as a walk-on. He quickly earned a full scholarship and, this season, has helped lead his team to its first winning record in more than 20 years. The independent Cougars (19-13) finished up their season Monday with a 95-92 win against Houston Baptist, and Holston had 25 points.
He knows some question whether he’d be as good a shooter against better Division I college teams, though he had 33 points in a loss at Marquette this season and 22 against an up-and-coming Northwestern squad.
Lindsey Hunter, a guard with the Chicago Bulls who’s been mentoring Holston since they met at church when Holston was in seventh grade, compares Holston to dunk champion Nate Robinson or 5-5 Earl Boykins.
“David has the skills,” Hunter said. “He has the ability. He has the smarts. He’s quick. He’s strong ó all the attributes to play on the next level.”