At first glance, most people wouldn’t consider comparing Andrew Holmes to future Hall-of-Famer Allen Iverson, who played in the NBA from 1996 to 2010. Holmes is a former St. Thomas Tommie. He played basketball under the guidance of Tommies head coach Dwight Dickinson. But the two players are more similar than you’d think.
Holmes grew up in Hampton, New Brunswick. Meanwhile, Holmes’ favorite player, Iverson, grew up in Hampton, Virginia. Neither are very tall. Iverson stands at six feet, while Holmes is just a couple inches shorter.
“He was the little guy who could,” said Holmes.
Holmes went to St. Thomas University for six years, and during five of those years he played for the men’s basketball team. He said he made lifelong friends on the team and they’re people he still talks to. His most memorable game was against the University of King’s College Blue Devils.
“Kind of always had that dream to hit that buzzer beater three,” said Holmes.
In Allen Iverson’s career he hit many buzzer beaters, including a midranger against Holmes’ favorite team, the Toronto Raptors. Iverson also hit a shot against the Indiana Pacers in overtime to win the game.
In the game between the Tommies and the Blue Devils, they also needed overtime. It was all tied up with three seconds left, when Holmes scored a three pointer to win the game.
After getting his undergraduate degree, he went on to get his Bachelor in Education from STU. After that he was contacted by a recruiting agency that was looking for teachers to teach English in China. There weren’t many teaching jobs available in New Brunswick at the time, according to Holmes, so he took the job. So, like Allen Iverson did at the end of his career, he took his basketball skills overseas.
The work ethic and defense that had been instilled in Holmes while playing under Tommies coach Dwight Dickinson got him in with a professional basketball team in Beijing. Though he only got to play three games, he felt it was a great experience.
“It’s kind of interesting. There’s a big difference between when you get to see the more professional side of it as to university because it’s more of a show,” said Holmes. “You go in there and they say, ‘We’re going to pay you. We don’t really care if you win, just put on a good show. We want it to be close.’”
Holmes was used to Dickinson preaching his team work ethic, defense and doing everything the right way. That’s why it came as a shock that these games were less about the competition and more like a Harlem Globetrotters game. Regardless, the skills he honed at St. Thomas translated well, enabling him to adjust to bigger and more athletic competition.
He now runs a skills and development camp in Beijing. Holmes teaches his students ball handling skills, shooting and defense. He already helped one of his players come over to Canada to play basketball. The student is Michael Chen, and Holmes is hoping in the future to have more guys make the trip over.