The Maroon and Gold Standard: On the court and in the kitchen with Tra Holder

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When you think of ASU point guard Tra Holder, you probably think of the basketball player who dons number 0 as he runs up and down the court at Wells Fargo arena in Tempe.

And rightfully so.

He’s second on the all-time list of free throws made and free throws attempted. He’s a 1,000-point scorer heading into his senior season and in his ASU career, he has 20 games in which he’s scored 20 points. But all of those accolades on the court can be attributed to his work off of it and the people who have supported him.

“He is a hard worker and it’s always been basketball for him,” says his mother Charee Rodgers. “Whenever he had the opportunity, after he did homework or he studied or whatever else he had to do, he just practiced basketball.”

Holder says his hard-working mentality came from both his mother and his father, Tony. Growing up in Los Angeles, Holder says his dad had a strong influence on him. He also knew he had dreams of excelling in basketball so he always kept his nose to the grindstone.

The 6-foot-1 senior point guard played high school basketball at Brentwood School in L.A., where he averaged 22 points and seven rebounds per game during his senior season as an Eagle. He was ranked the 132nd-best player in the nation, according to Rivals.com, a high school recruiting site. During his freshman season at ASU in 2014-2015, he lived up to expectations.

He averaged 27 minutes a game, tallied 115 assists (which ranks second in ASU history for a freshman), shot 70 percent from the free throw line and had nine double-digit scoring efforts in conference play. He also posted a 15-point, eight-assist effort over sixth-ranked Arizona point guard T.J. McConnell, who now plays for the Philadelphia 76ers.

His freshman season was just the launching pad. Since that campaign, he’s improved his points per game, field goal percentage, and his three-point shot percentage every year. His progression throughout his three years as a Sun Devil circles back to that personality trait of never settling and always expecting more out of himself.  After two years at the helm of the Sun Devil program, head coach Bobby Hurley has not only noticed the improvement of his senior point guard in several areas of his game, but his willingness to do whatever the team needed.

“Tra has worked on things that we have asked him to work on and has gotten better in areas that we have asked him to,” Hurley says. “He’s always had great instincts on getting into the paint and he’s doing other things to become a complete player.”

During his time at ASU, that ability to get into the paint has allowed Holder to soar up the all-time list of free throws attempted and made in a career. He currently sits second in both categories heading into his senior year. While he attributed some of his success at the line to his teammates’ ability to shoot the ball, Holder has also pulled a few moves and techniques from great professional players and even a former Sun Devil.

“It makes it easier for me to get into the lane and get fouled and stuff like that,” Holder says. “I watch some of the best players too, like James Harden, who gets fouled a lot, and I try to take some of their strategies too.”

While Holder spends a lot of time perfecting his craft on the court, he’s also found a way to, at times, get away from the game. If you ask teammates, like Shannon Evans, they may not call him a chef, but Holder knows his way around the kitchen.

“He’s never cooked for us, but I heard he’s pretty decent at cooking pasta,” Evans says. “I’m not gonna call him a chef or anything though.”

Holder says he makes a pretty good shrimp scampi and started having an interest in cooking from watching his mother when he was young. When he makes a visit to the grocery store, he may give his mom a call to ask her a couple questions about something he is making, but he also learns from watching cooking shows. But he doesn’t just watch the shows to learn how to cook.

“The ones I watch are fun; they aren’t boring,” Holder says.  “And you get to learn about other cultures and learn about different ways of cooking and I think that’s just how I developed my passion.”

Along with cooking, Holder has always had an interest in film and loves to watch movies. While some of his favorite actors are Will Smith, Denzel Washington, Tom Cruise and Leonardo Dicaprio, Holder says he watches all sorts of movies.  He added that he’s always at the theater, often catching two or three new movies every two weeks.

“I have just always liked movies because it kinda takes you out of the real world for a couple of hours, so I always gravitated towards that,” Holder says.

Along with his interests in cooking and film, the 1,000-point scorer for ASU has always had his family right by his side. Just like any parents, they helped him move in when he was a freshman and Rodgers returns to Tempe regularly to watch Holder play at Wells Fargo Arena. In fact, Holder had trouble remembering the last time his mom missed a game.

“It’s kinda like that with my dad, too,” Holder says. “They are great, supporting people and if I ever need anything, I know they’re always there for me. Honestly, I’m just glad to have both of my parents.”

With his final college season underway, Holder has his eyes on the prize of getting into the NCAA tournament. But while he works towards that, it’s impossible to ignore his impact on and off the court.

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