Despite her late arrival via rookie free agency, Texas alumna Joyner Holmes has high hopes about working with the New York Liberty.
One of the biggest factors behind Joyner Holmes’ decision to join the New York Liberty was, cliche as it sounds, location, location, location. Holmes mentioned she “really liked” the idea of a New York City excursion in a post-practice conference call from Bradenton upon the Liberty’s arrival to the WNBA bubble at IMG Academy.
Fortunately, with the team’s Barclays Center debut postponed due to current events, New York offered plenty of reasons for Holmes to join on.
Holmes’ professional destiny appeared to be taking her further west back in April. After four years as a Texas Longhorn, she was chosen in the second round by the Seattle Storm (19th overall). But when roster cuts were mandated before a single minute of camp action, Holmes was part of the sacrificial transactions on the Emerald City ledger.
When players cautiously opted out of the 2020 bubble campaign at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida, Holmes’ opportunity for a second chance arrived quickly. As if a future in Brooklyn wasn’t tantalizing enough, a conversation with the newly assembled Liberty coaching staff sealed Holmes’ seafoam-tinted fate.
“I didn’t really talk to a lot of the players before I got here,” Holmes explained over the weekend. “But the coaching staff, for me, was a really big plus. I like (head coach Walt Hopkins) a lot. He’s really free-range and he’s willing to let us do whatever, try to follow in his system. For me, that was a really big target.”
Holmes had a chance to look back on her infantile metropolitan journey in a Zoom teleconference on Saturday afternoon, shortly after the Liberty wrapped up their first organized workout in preparation for an isolated season slated to begin on July 25. She’s one of seven rookies currently slated to suit up for the upcoming 22-game slate and the only one added through free agency.
Despite her late arrival, Hopkins is loving the way Holmes is fitting in so far.
“I wouldn’t say I’m surprised by Joyner’s skillset because she got to show it off a little bit at Texas,” Hopkins remarked. “She’s really skilled. She really does guard skills for her size (6’3). She fits us in that regard, that she can play multiple positions, guard multiple positions. She’s an eager learner and has totally bought in and has been really responsive to what we’ve needed. We’re really excited about her.”
Among Joyner Holmes’ Austin accomplishments are first-team all-Big 12 honors earned during her freshman season and a streak of seven consecutive double-doubles to open her senior campaign (a Longhorns program record). National honors also dot her hardwood resume, including participation in the 2016 McDonald’s All-American Game and repping the United States twice in the FIBA Under-17 Women’s Basketball World Cup. Among her teammates in a gold medal endeavor in 2014 were new Liberty comrades Sabrina Ionescu and Asia Durr (who opted-out of Bradenton after a positive COVID-19 diagnosis in June).
“Talking to Walt, he wants us not to feel like we’re set in stone at one position,” Holmes said when asked about her potential role in New York. “Right now, whatever they need me to do, I’m willing to do that.”
Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags