Demarcus Holland Out to Prove He Can Shoot

Anyone who has ever watched Longhorns junior guard Demarcus Holland play knows he only has one speed.

Put it this way, he’ll make you want to grab an oxygen mask even while your sitting down. It’s exhausting.

He’s Texas’ modern-day Royal Ivey and in two years of all-out effort has turned himself into one of the best on-ball defenders in the country.

His never-ending motor was precisely what garnered the attention of UT’s staff during his senior year at Garland (Texas) Naaman Forest High School, where the Longhorns had already secured a commitment from his teammate Prince Ibeh.

Texas couldn’t get enough of Holland’s tenacity on the defensive end so the Longhorns offered and got him to flip his commitment from South Florida three months later.

Notice a theme here?

Mostly everything associated with Holland has to do with the defensive side of the ball. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. But if Texas is going to have as much success as the country believes it will this season, its going to have to get more out of Holland on offense.

He averaged the second-most minutes on the team last season at 29.6 but took the fewest shots of all the starters (222 attempts) and made the fewest too (92). It all equated to a 7.1 points per game average.

“I had to get better at shooting the ball because I was hurting my team in a sense,” he said. “And it was hurting me in a sense just knowing that I’m out there on the floor and the coaches wanted me out there on the floor but, at times, they had to take me off for offense.”

His 41 percent shooting from the floor, which was sixth on the team, was light years ahead of his 29 percent shooting from beyond the arc. Holland’s free throw shooting wasn’t much better at 57 percent (49 of 86).

So you can probably guess what Holland worked on the most this offseason.

“My shots coming along really well,” he said. “I changed my release point. It’s higher so I can get it off quicker. Coach [Rick] Barnes has been consistently working with me since Day 1. I haven’t arrived yet. I never feel like I’ve arrived but I definitely feel like I have gotten a lot better at shooting the ball. I think that can help us a lot.”

As a whole the Longhorns didn’t exactly shoot the light out of the gym last season. They ranked 59th nationally in overall efficiency on offense and 262nd in effective field-goal percentage, which just simply isn’t going to cut it.

Holland said he’s transitioned from an “arm shooter” into someone that uses his legs a lot more.

“I’m using my legs now and finishing through my toes,” he said.

Just getting consistent rotation on the ball. There was a lot of things I changed on my shot. It really comes down to rhythm.”

A belief from the coaching staff helps too.

“Coach Barnes is always helping me,” he said. “When you have people pulling for you and believing in you, you keep that confidence. I always had that drive. I always want to be better.”

That attitude is precisely why Holland is one of Barnes’ favorites on this team. He and Johnathan Holmes both embody that gritty, do-whatever-it-takes attitude that Barnes believes they got away from recruiting a few years ago but are now dialed in on again.

"Jon Holmes and Demarcus Holland from the time they've been here they've been two of the hardest workers we've ever coached," Barnes said. "It rubs off. More and more guys are understanding what it takes to compete day-in-and-day-out and be an every day player."

While he’s confident he’ll be able to show off an improved offensive game, he’ll still showcase his on-ball defense and all-around hustle this season. It’s who he is.

“I embrace my roll,” Holland said. “I’ve always took pride in doing whatever it took for us to win. If it takes me guarding the best player every game I’ll do that. If it takes me rebounding, I’ll do that. If I have to just pass the ball to the post and cut, I’ve just bought in completely. Whatever they ask me to do I’ll do.”

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