Jan. 23, 2009
Justin Holiday is a sophomore forward from Chatsworth, Calif. He has been an integral part of Washington's defense that has limited opponents to just 41 percent shooting and a rebounding effort that is the nation's best. He was nicknamed "The Fireman" earlier this season by teammate Justin Dentmon and is one of only two reserves on the Huskies who has played in all 15 games this season. His brother, Jrue, is a freshman basketball player at UCLA.
Recently, GoHuskies.com caught up with Justin while the team was returning from its successful road trip to snowy Pullman, Wash.
GoHuskies.com: How would you describe your season thus far?
Justin: "First of all, I think this year is better than last year altogether. I am healthy. I'm not sitting out because of injury or sickness, so that's a good thing. I think this season can just get better and better for me. I hope to just continue to improve and I'll get more minutes. As long as we are winning, though, I'm a happy guy. Winning is what I'm good with right now."
GoHuskies.com: Why did you choose to attend Washington?
Justin: "First of all, the coaching staff. I felt they did the best job of recruiting me. They really showed that they wanted me. I really didn't connect as well with some of the coaches at other schools that recruited me. I really felt that I connected with Coach Romar, Coach Dollar, Coach Fortier and Coach Shaw. I thought it was the best place for me to go."
GoHuskies.com: How has the adjustment been, coming from Southern California to the Pacific Northwest and the University of Washington?
Justin: "It has been good. The summers are great. During the winter, while the weather isn't as good, we are playing basketball so it doesn't impact me that much. I'm not as much of a fan of the snow, so thankfully we don't see that much of it in Seattle. California might have better weather, but I am really happy to be here in Seattle and attending Washington. I'm really glad I made the decision to come here."
GoHuskies.com: Do you talk with your brother, Jrue, very often? Do you guys exchange scouting reports?
Justin: "I talk with Jrue all the time. I talk to him after just about every one of his games. We talk as if we were still playing together, replaying all the great things we did during the game. We just talk about normal stuff. We don't really share any basketball secrets or talk about strategy or anything like that."
GoHuskies.com: Were there any school that recruited the two of you together? How did you handle that?
Justin: "Of course there were schools that wanted both of us and we would talk about that. He is younger than me so my college decision came earlier. But, our talks mostly were about which situation was best for us individually. Not necessarily for us as a pair."
GoHuskies.com: With Jrue being younger, did you help him with the recruiting process or give him advice?
Justin: "No, not really. I felt that he really needed to go through the process himself and find out what he really wanted on his own. There really weren't that many things he felt like he needed to ask me about. By the time he was being recruited, he saw what I went through so I don't think there were that many questions he needed help with."
GoHuskies.com: Can you talk about the competition between the two of you while you were growing up? Obviously there must have been some pretty good backyard basketball games.
Justin: "The competition was always tough, but we realized early on that we were better off teaming together and using out teamwork against everyone else. We were on the same team all the time and we haven't lost many games playing together - whether it was pickup or the various teams we played on. When we were younger, we played on different summer league teams. But, as we got older we started playing together."
GoHuskies.com: What would you say is your top basketball-related accomplishment so far?
Justin: "Other than winning two state championships in high school, I'd have to say it is being able to earn a college scholarship so my mom wouldn't have to pay for me to go is the biggest thing. I'd also have to say that being able to play at the next level and play in college is a big accomplishment."
GoHuskies.com: Who would you say has made the biggest impact on your life?
Justin: "Definitely, my parents. They have always been there for me. Whenever I had any problems with anything, I knew I could go to them and everything would be okay."
GoHuskies.com: What did your parents think of your leaving California to attend college at Washington?
Justin: "They were just fine with it. My mom wanted me out of the house! Just kidding."
GoHuskies.com: Who are your roommates and what is it like living with them?
Justin: "I live with Darnell (Gant), Isaiah (Thomas) and Scott (Suggs). We all get along well and we hang out a lot - when we aren't at practice or games. We are all pretty crazy people when it comes to pranks and things like that. Darnell is the one that is usually trying to cook. I can cook a hamburger or something like that. But, if there is one person who is usually cooking or is a little more creative it is probably Darnell. We all handle our own laundry and, for the most part, we usually keep things pretty cleaned up."
GoHuskies.com: What kind of personal goals have you set for yourself?
Justin: "I really just want to improve in all aspects of the game. I generally play defense pretty well. But, the thing I would like to do is score a little better - become more of a threat that the other team has to aware of, someone who can make baskets and put pressure on the other team."