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Posted On: 06/27/18 7:26 AM
Many people outside of Toledo right now are maybe thinking, “The Toledo Area Athletic Conference, what’s that?” Look, people in the city were sort of saying that not too many years ago.
Then a funny thing happened: two Division I guard prospects entered the conference and have elevated the buzz and quality of play. Those two, Maumee Valley’s Zeb Jackson and Cardinal Stritch’s Joey Holifield, play as C2K Elite teammates during the grassroots season. But come the winter, they’re pitted against each other as rivals during two special games each year. Even when they’re not playing each other, eyes are fixated on the two.
Bottom line, Jackson and Holifield teamed up in the same conference makes for interesting fan fodder and preseason predictions.
We’re talking about a pair of dominate ball-handlers who are running teams with good records, so it may not seem too bold. But consider that both were “Special Mention” in the All State teams a year ago, which seems crazy but is true.
Both have paid their dues at this point though. Jackson is the best college prospect playing Division IV basketball in Ohio next season and it’s not even debatable. The Maumee Valley star is also not one of these prospects who is ranked high purely on potential. Instead, Jackson is a shot-taker who often wills MVCDS to wins by creating looks for himself. There’s little chance of him not averaging 20 points next season, no matter how much he is schemed against. And he definitely will see a lot of coverages again next year.
Then there’s Holifield, who we’re going to go beyond the box score on…
Stritch has been very good for the last two seasons. Their trio of Holifield, Little Anderson, and the ever-steady Jordan Burton is as formidable of a group in the conference. With just one year left of the whole gang being together, this is their year more than ever.
Combining collegiate talent with chemistry leads to conference titles in the TAAC and we expect it to happen in dominate fashion. Holifield deserves a lot of credit in both the talent and chemistry departments, which is why…
Imagining a world where Stritch is undefeated means that Holifield would need to be pretty special, which is exactly what he’s been since stepping onto the court. He’s a program-changing type player and leader who his elders on the team have bought into from day one as their go-to guy. Therefore, Holifield will pace games next season, get to the hole whenever the need a bucket, and keep everyone involved. He’s simply the best player on the best team.
By the way, Maumee Valley’s and Cardinal Stritch’s team successes could reach beyond the regular season.
Maumee Valley maintains most of their talent from last season’s District Championship team. Although they’ll likely run into Convoy Crestview in the regionals once again, they have a chance to make noise. In order to get over the hump, sophomore 6’2” wing Steve Coleman needs to be more productive on offense. The athletic 2021 prospect will surely contribute on the boards and as a versatile defender, but another reliable scoring option would relieve pressure off Jackson and open up the floor.
Little Anderson has played the role of third offensive option and defensive specialist over the last few seasons. But similar to the MVCDS dynamic, another scoring option would really help Stritch’s backcourt of Holifield and Burton — both of which can get a shot whenever. Anderson doesn’t need to necessarily score in bunches or even consistently create off the bounce. Even becoming a high-percentage spot shooter would make them viable state contenders at the Division III level.