Up until Jrue Holiday’s arrival at Campbell Hall, the private North Hollywood school had the reputation of a one-room schoolhouse -- an ideal setting for an intimate education, but hardly the place to develop an elite boys’ basketball player, much less an entire team.
Nearly four years later, Holiday has made a name for himself among the best players in the nation and, in turn, helped the Vikings become one of the Southland’s most successful basketball programs.
When he graduates this spring, Holiday will take with him three state championships, an appearance in the McDonald’s All-American game and the distinction of being selected Gatorade’s national player of the year. He can now add one more award, as he has been selected The Times’ boys’ basketball player of the year.
Holiday said playing for a small school provided him with just the right mix -- he benefited from the school’s academic environment while building a name for himself on the travel-ball circuit. As a freshman member of the Vikings’ varsity team, he experienced an undefeated run to the Division IV state title. Campbell Hall also won state titles this season and last.
“Travel ball put me on the map,” Holiday said. “Being at a small school, I could still get the education and play against the big public schools.”
Holiday is a point guard who can sky for rebounds, a shooting guard who can fire precision passes, and a prolific scorer who preferred to get his entire team involved. He averaged 25.3 points, 12 rebounds, 6.8 assists, 4.6 steals and 2.4 blocks this season.
“I like to be well-balanced like that,” he said. “I don’t like to be just a scorer, I like playing defense too.”
Which should make him a terrific fit at UCLA, which prides itself on its in-your-face defense and a clockwork half-court offense.
Holiday’s statistics didn’t come against only the small schools in the Olympic League.
He had 22 points, nine rebounds and seven assists in Campbell Hall’s two-point victory over Santa Margarita, the Division III state champion. He had 40 points and 12 rebounds in the Vikings’ 12-point loss to San Juan Capistrano Serra, a Southern Section Division I-AA quarterfinalist, and 35 points in the team’s one-point loss to Atlanta (Ga.) South Atlanta.
In the Division IV state championship game against Albany St. Mary’s, Holiday got into early foul trouble but still managed 19 points and 11 rebounds in Campbell Hall’s 83-61 victory.
“My goal was to win state,” he said. “I really didn’t think about the McDonald’s game or the Gatorade award.”