Posted On: 01/23/17 12:00 PM

Every once in a while a freshman comes in and completely changes the expectations and reality of a high school program. For Cardinal Stritch (Oregon, OH), Joey Holifield has that type of ability.

Although the 6’0” guard is surrounded by other quality players, especially sophomore Jordan Burton, Holifield has brought the spark.

PHO caught up with Holifield the morning after a tough 51-47 loss to Toledo Christian. That loss brought Cardinal Stritch to an 8-3 record, but for such a young player a loss often teaches you more than a win.

“It was a tough loss, but just got to learn from it … It’s been a big transition from eighth grade ball to varsity ball. That transition has helped me out a lot. It’s helped my game with being more vocal on the court and working on things for the next level,” Holifield said.

Consider that Holifield wasn’t even watching film with his team last year, now basketball is a 24/7 commitment during the season. But Holifield has enjoyed all this extra time he gets to spend around the gym, and has even taken on a leadership role early.

“I’m a freshman but I would say that my role is to give it all I got on both sides of the floor, and be a leader. Help my teammates out.”

Not only does Holifield likely help out teammates during practices and film-sessions, he creates shots for them on Friday nights.

“I would describe myself as a playmaker. I can do it on both sides of the floor, I play defense. My favorite thing is getting to the basket. But my skill-set, is a play-maker,” Holifield said.

In the one game we saw of Holifield’s, against Maumee Valley a few weeks back, he took over the game. PHO could hardly believe they were watching a freshman, given his physicality on the drive.

During that same game, Holifield was tasked with guarding Zeb Jackson on the other end and flat-out won the individual battle.

PHO isn’t the only group who has taken notice to his talent. First and foremost, he has visited Ohio State.

Also, the All Ohio grassroots program saw him just a few times this summer, which was enough to offer him the opportunity for him to play with All Ohio Red this coming summer.

“It’s all hard work. I went to the City Series, the Nike All Ohio City Series, and I played really good in front of the All Ohio Red coaches,” Holifield said.

Holifield, who’s 6’4” father played Division I football, said he plans on strengthening his legs in the weight room and becoming more vocal on the court. He’s on the right path towards fulfilling his basketball goals, which include becoming the all-time assist leader at Cardinal Stritch and taking them to the State Championship.