IUWBB: Mackenzie Holmes becomes IU’s third verbal commit for 2019

When the recruiting process began for Mackenzie Holmes, the 6-foot-2 forward set some benchmarks.

Holmes wanted to play at the highest level possible. She wanted to play somewhere with a buzz around the program. Not only that, but she wanted a chance to play in the NCAA tournament.

But in and around Gorham, Maine, there aren’t many programs that fit the bill.

“Unless you go to UConn, there aren’t a lot of schools like that in the Northeast,” said her father, Lenny, who is a part of Maine’s AAU basketball scene. “You go to a game and there’s 300, 500 people in the stands and there’s no excitement around the program.”

Mackenzie Holmes found her college basketball match more than 1,000 miles to the west, where Tyra Buss and Amanda Cahill have been leading the Hoosiers to consecutive postseason berths. The junior from Gorham High announced her commitment to Indiana on Wednesday, making her the third member of the 2019 class.

Like Jorie Allen (Bedford, Ind.) and Arielle Wisne (Thornton, Colo.), Holmes will classify as a forward, but she is probably a different type. While Allen is a 6-1 tweener, and Wisne is a 6-5 rim protector with raw offensive skills, Holmes is billed as a more advanced post scorer. She has flashed an ability to finish with either hand, utilizing a variety of moves under the basket.

Going into Maine’s Class AA title game in March — the largest class in the state — Holmes was averaging 21 points, 13.2 rebounds, and 5.2 blocks per game, according to the Portland Press-Herald. While she started to receive offers as a freshman, interest in Holmes really started to pick up this past summer after performances at national AAU events in Washington D.C. and Louisville, Ky.

Holmes considered programs like Iowa State, Boston College, Belmont and James Madison. She visited IU in October, including Hoosier Hysteria, and came away impressed by the atmosphere at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall.

“The culture that’s built around basketball there is crazy,” Holmes said. “I have a basketball family, so to go to a school that is all about basketball is special.”

Holmes’ mother and father played college basketball at smaller schools in Maine. Her brother, Cameron, is a male practice player for the women’s basketball team at Bryant University. Height runs in the family, and while Mackenzie is listed at 6-2, she has a 6-5 wingspan.

Don Briggs, Holmes’ AAU coach with the Maine Firecrackers, will vouch for the younger Holmes’ skill set, which was developed through some tough love. She started playing for him as an eighth-grader on a ninth-grade team.

“She lasted 20 minutes in my first practice,” Briggs said. “We had a ‘come to Jesus’ meeting, told her she couldn’t play for me. ‘You got to go home and think about what you want and come back and chat with me.’ She came back and said ‘I need you to coach me’ … and I said ‘Well, buckle up.’ For the next three weeks, her puking at practice was a regular occurrence.”

From then on, Holmes has shown a dedication to her craft and her teams. Not only have Holmes’ squads won at AAU tournaments, but Gorham captured state titles in 2016 and ’17 before falling short 50-49 in the title game this March.

Her uncanny knack for scoring in the post is her most attractive feature, but Briggs said Holmes has become more than just a back-to-the-basket player. She will run the floor and has shown an ability to hit a midrange jumper. She is also a hustler for loose balls and a battler down low.

“At our local fall league, we play against the boys and she’s out there hammering people with forearms, coming across the lane and competing,” Briggs said, “and I love it.”

Apparently, the Hoosiers loved it, too. IU coach Teri Moren traveled to visit Holmes at a practice, Briggs said, and assistants Rhet Wierzba and Janese Banks also made trips to visit the forward.

She wanted to find a place where she could compete at a high level, and IU and the Big Ten will offer that.

“It’s been a dream of mine to play at the highest level possible, and I got the opportunity to do that,” Holmes said. “I’m behind excited.”


  1. Watcher her on a video, looks like she has good footwork. Glad to see us adding more size, 6’ 5” wingspan is intriguing. Our lack of size has really hampered us at times the last several years. We need to continue to add as much size as we can! This could be a very good addition to our team.

  2. This girl looks pretty good plus athletic (good hand eye coordination). Good size. I like the attitude because she wants to get outside her box to challenge herself. She has the ability to be an all big ten team performer by her senior year. IU ladies are getting bigger. T.Moren and staff have been very creative to recruit players to improve IU ladies basketball program. The overseas player, girl from Colorado, Holmes, and the other players coming in…along with current players.

  3. Also watched video of her and she also appears to run the floor well. She does look a lot bigger than everyone else so I do wonder about the competition in her area. We certainly do need help in the post and appears she scores the ball at a pretty good clip. Next year will be interesting to see how it all fits together.

  4. In watching Moren’s interview you can see the disappointment in her face and the strain she must have felt for her team when they realized they wouldnt get a bid. Hopefully the team will get past the disappointment and come out with a bit of a chip on their shoulders on thursday night- Go Hoosiers!

    1. I don’t know why she would be disappointed at her second straight WNIT bid..these tourneys are literally saving Teri’ s job..her record will look a lot better after a tourney run. Last year without NIT she would’ve been 20-10 against a mediocre schedule and this year 17-14 against a good one

  5. Wait a minute Hoosierfan, didn’t you say earlier this year that we had a weak schedule? And why shouldn’t she be disappointed they didn’t make the Big Dance? They had a much better RPI than many of the teams that made the dance. We beat Western Kentucky, Minnesota and Nebraska which are in the tournament? Of course she is disappointed. Woulda, coulda, shoulda, I am sure there are 64 teams that are happy to be in the WNIT. It is an oppritunity for young teams to get additional practices and games that benifit them in the future. After all, Michigan won the NIT last year and this year made the NCAA tournament. I doubt that they would poo poo their NIT appearance last year. Hoosierfan, I was really worried about your absence on this site when IU was playing so well the end of the season and their incredible win against Michigan St. in the Big 10 tournament. You were noticeably absent! But, then again that is what you do, you only show up when you have something negitive to say about our coach and her program. When things are going well, nothing but crickets from you.

  6. I know her father pretty well… he was a coach at the next HS over my senior year and has been running an AAU program for the last 20 years… she’s been pretty dominant and every year Maine throws out a handful of D1 players… usually post players… I’ll make it a point to go watch some games next year and keep you guys updated. Excited to have a Hoosier up here!

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