Mar 20, 2021; Bloomington, Indiana, USA; St. Bonaventure Bonnies guard Jaren Holmes (5) shoots against Louisiana State Tigers guard Ja’Vonte Smart (1) and forward Josh LeBlanc Sr. (11) during the second half in the first round of the 2021 NCAA Tournament at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall. Mandatory Credit: Jordan Prather-USA TODAY Sports
Iowa State has landed a coveted transfer guard.
St. Bonaventure transfer Jaren Holmes announced his pledge to the program on Friday following an official visit to Ames earlier this week. The 6-foot-4 Romulus, Mich. native has one season of eligibility remaining.
“It felt like the right fit for me and my family,” Holmes told Cyclone Fanatic on Friday while explaining his commitment. “The love that Coach TJ (Otzelberger) and Coach (Nate) Schmidt showed throughout the process. They were my first call as soon as I hit the portal. They said they were just looking and saw that my name popped up. It’s honestly a blessing in disguise. Having ties with Bonaventure and Iowa State with (Izaiah) Brockington last year, it just felt like the right decision for me and my future moving forward.”
Holmes averaged 13.1 points, 5.0 rebounds and 2.7 assists per game for the Bonnies in 78 games across the last three seasons. He scored 13.5 points, grabbed 5.0 rebounds and dished 3.6 assists per game this past season while starting all 33 games.
Holmes, who is currently completing his degree in Sports Media at St. Bonaventure, prepped at Romulus High, which is the alma mater of former Cyclone Will Clyburn.
Schmidt, who was promoted to assistant coach this week after spending last season as the program’s director of player development, also spent time on the staff at Romulus early last decade.
The longstanding connection with Schmidt and that aforementioned visit to Ames sealed the deal to land Holmes’ commitment.
“Honestly, coming from Bonaventure, it was kind of like another planet. It was just surreal,” Holmes said of the visit. “Just the town of Ames. It was a great experience overall, and it has so much to offer. People were so receptive to me and my mom. There’s no better place to play basketball. I used to watch Iowa State looking up to Monte Morris, him coming from Michigan, and then also, Will Clyburn and the Clyburn family, I’m close with them, as well. It’s a big step in my future and in my growth, and I’m glad I’m doing at Iowa State.”
This has been an interesting last several weeks for Holmes since putting his name into the transfer portal. He reportedly received interest from Memphis, Mississippi State, USC, Vanderbilt, Minnesota, Ohio State, Clemson, Boise State, Maryland, Seton Hall, Pittsburgh, Alabama, Clemson, Arkansas, Georgetown, Georgia Tech and Florida in addition to the Cyclones.
With everything going on around college athletics, the craziness surrounding name, image and likeness, and the whirlwind of the portal process, finding Iowa State was a welcome relief for the veteran guard.
“It was crazy, honestly,” Holmes said. “The different schools reaching out, seeing who was actually legit, who wanted me for my talent, or who just wanted me just to say they have a guy, a senior that grad transferred. That was probably the hardest thing. Schools just reaching out just to reach out, knowing the real and the fake, but I’ve been through a lot throughout my career, to kind of know who’s lying, and who’s telling the truth. That’s why I felt Iowa State was the best fit for me.”
Holmes will be expected to slide into an off-ball scoring role alongside senior guard Gabe Kalscheur, who is expected to utilize his COVID year to return for a second season with the program. That role is especially appealing for Holmes after what Iowa State’s staff was able to do this past season for Izaiah Brockington, who drastically increased in nearly every statistical category while earning first-team All-Big 12 honors.
“Coach TJ and his staff just instilled in me that they want me to be aggressive,” Holmes said. “I’m coming in to score and they want me to take some of the load that Brockington had last year and add that to my game as far as taking those big shots and making those big plays.”
Iowa State now has two scholarships open on next season’s roster after the additions of Holmes, plus Temple guard Jeremiah Williams and VCU forward Hason Ward. All three transfers figure to play a huge role in Iowa State’s attempt to follow up its Sweet 16 berth in 2022.
All those things will sort themselves out in the months ahead, though. For now, Holmes can put this experience behind him and enjoy his remaining time at St. Bonaventure before moving on to his next adventure.
“My relationship with Coach Schmidt goes way, way further back then, people realize,” Holmes said. “He’s a very influential person in my life. He’s doing great things like he always has. If it’s been with the Herd, Iowa State, UNLV. He’s a great guy, and I’m looking forward to working with him, the whole staff and Coach TJ. I’m excited to get to Ames and I’m excited to be a Cyclone.”