Bloomington, Ind. – This isn't what Eli Holman and Jamarcus Ellis are used to.
Two of the newest Hoosiers recently completed a statewide tour with fellow newcomers Brandon McGee, Eric Gordon, DeAndre Thomas and Jordan Crawford, making stops at places like New Albany and Elnora before settling into their new Bloomington residents in preparation for the start of the semester. They'll join the rest of their teammates and the IU coaching staff this weekend for the first of 10 practices in preparation for next weekend's five exhibition games in the Bahamas.
While the Hoosier state's fans can make any big-time hoops star feel at home, it's still a very different setting from what both Ellis and Holman have grown up with.
"It's way different – you don't see this back at home," said Holman about the acres of corn and soybeans he saw while touring the state. "I'm getting used to it. I had to adjust, but I'm getting used to it."
Holman is used to a very different environment, one that put him in harm's way a year ago. A native of Richmond, Cal., Holman escaped injury after being grazed by a bullet during a drive-by shooting in January in the San Francisco Bay area city. Violence is something Holman has grown up around in Richmond, a city of a little more than 100,000 just outside Oakland. In 2006 it was statistically the most dangerous city in California with 40 murders.
He's now in Bloomington, a city without the same sort of fast pace, but one where he can focus on basketball and school and not have to worry about some of the distractions and dangers he's faced in the past.
"At first it was a shock, but now I feel it's a home away from home," Holman said. "When I got here I expected to see big cities like back home, but I like it here. It's quieter, you get time to yourself, you have your own space, and it gives you time to think and develop."
Ellis' journey from Chicago to Bloomington is only a four-hour car ride, but the way of life still stands in stark contrast to what he was used to while growing up in the Windy City. A Chicago Public League standout at Westingthouse H.S., Ellis agrees it's been an adjustment, but one that he's welcomed.
"It's real different from Chicago, where there are a lot of buildings and a lot more people and a lot more going on," Ellis said. "You come out here and there are different people, people you can talk to. It's very peaceful.
"The way I look at it, I've broadened my horizons to see this and how people live different from Chicago people."
While Holman came directly from Richmond to Bloomington, Ellis' adjustment has been made easier by his two-year stint at Chipola (Fla.) Junior College. Chipola J.C. is located in Marianna, Fla., a town of just over 6,000 located in the Florida panhandle.
"I had an adjustment which was being away from home, but I got used to that at Chipola," Ellis said. "So it's nothing new for me being away from home and in a different environment. As long as I have basketball and my teammates, it's easy for me to get adjusted to school a new environment."
Both say they're enjoying their new found surroundings, but it's still been a leap of faith to make the adjustment from the big-city life to the small town ways of Bloomington.
"It was a tough decision," said Holman, who picked IU over Boston College. "But (Kelvin) Sampson and the fans won me over. I think I made the best decision to come here and be in this environment."
Holman, Ellis Adjust to New Way of Life
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