Sensational Return?

Titans legend basketball player Ralphy Holmes says he is leaning to returning for his senior season but it will take a few hurdles and a lot of willpower on his part for him to come back next season.

The likelihood of Ralphy "The Sensational" Holmes returning for his final year of college hoops at Cal State Fullerton appears to be on the rise. There remains many questions but we are slowly getting the answers. Based on an interview with Ralphy on February 17th of this month and talking to coaches last week, the possibility is there that he can return.

The current information says that Ralphy can regain his eligibility provided he takes 24 units during the summer and first semester. He would then be eligible for the second semester, just like W. Kentucky transfer Jamaal Brown.

There is also a piece of legislature going forward in the NCAA that could potentially reduce this number to 12 units but that will not be known for some time.

And what about playing for a school whose president (Milton Gordan) not only suspended him from the team but booted him from school for a year for a misdemeanor? Is it possible that he has no hard feelings? Yes, it is possible.

"I'm a hot head," says Ralphy. "I'll be all like 'I'm going to get that money and no way am I going back to school'. But I had a long talk with my mom and she really wants me to finish school. I put a big smile on her face when I told her today about my situation with my grades and how I have a chance in coming back. She's enthusiastic about that."

And Holmes is hearing similar things from other coaches and players, "A lot have people have also told me to go back," says Holmes. "Go back for another year and get your name out there. No one will be trusting me if I don't go back. So basically I need to redeem myself."

"But you know me though, I am talking to a lot of people. I haven't made the decision on if I am coming back or not."

Apparently school officials and Athletic Director Brian Quinn want him back as well. "I had a good talk with my academic advisors on campus yesterday. It's nothing for me to get back into school. I could get reinstated, if I'd like. I talked to Brian Quinn today and it's all good. They told me to just honor my legal responsibilities, go back to Philly and then we'll see you when you get back for classes."

Of course the temptation is there to turn pro now and go overseas and play ball where he could start off making up to $100,000. But again, Ralphy is thinking of his family.

"I've got to think about my daughter and how I need to put myself in a better position," Holmes continues. "With all the stuff going on in this world I don't know if I want to leave the country, to tell you the truth. I'm not trying to go to Europe. I feel if I come back next year I could be an early round second pick."

Ralphy also says he wants to make it up to the kids he used to teach in basketball camp. "I think of those little kids... I not only let my daughter down, my family down, myself… I let all my little fans down as well. I always helped out in those basketball camps and stuff and I love those kids. They help keep me going."

But was not satisfied and they had to press further. C'mon Ralphy, what are our chances of seeing you back in a Titan uniform next season? "I have a lot of time to think about that," Ralphy says. "But I am really leaning towards … it's like a 70-30 chance I am coming back, right now."

Okay, we can live with that. Obviously much better odds than when this all went down back in October.

If he comes back, he has his sights set pretty high. "I look forward to coming back here for my last year and finishing up strong. I want to win a Big West championship. I have other aspirations like winning the MVP of the Big West."

Ralphy says he is so close to getting his degree and he really wants to do this for his daughter. "I'm looking at the long picture now, the long run. Now I am trying to get my degree, for my daughter."

He continues, "I am so close, I only need like 30 units. I'm totally committed to coming in and giving you all 25 and 11 [laughs].

As a Titan fan, just the thought of Ralphy coming back is quite exciting. The Titans lose four starting seniors next year, including potential NBA draft choice Pape Sow. In the wings are newcomers like Jermaine Harper and Jamaal Brown in addition to the return of freshman point guard Bobby Brown.

Harper is currently slotted to play the same position Holmes played in 2002-03 but Ralphy says he can play the one, two or three and adds, "People say we could be the best basketball [guards] on the west coast. That's what they're saying."

And what about playing for coach Bob Burton?

"Yeah, you know Bob Burton is going to love me. They know I'll come through. It's all good. Burton told me he will want me to shoot until my shoulder falls off."

Speaking of that shoulder he dislocated against Sacramento State in December of 2002, how is that holding up?

"It's straight, man. It's straight. I'm playing at a high-level energy right now."

And lastly, will having similar type of player (i.e. likes to take the big shots) in Bobby Brown cause any problems?

"He definitely has no conscience and I have to give him props for that but there are so many ways to score out there. People think you can only score on offense. Get a steal. Get a rebound. Offensive rebound. There a 100 ways to score out there. I learned that at an early age. So it's all good."

Only if he decides to come back, that is.

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