Recruiting: Friends’ Central senior standout Ed Holland III chooses Penn basketball
The star forward overcame a series of injuries to make his Division I dream come true.
Ed Holland III spoke it into existence as a child and he won’t need to go far to enjoy the reality.
Holland, a long-armed and versatile 6-foot-6 senior forward at Friends' Central, committed to Penn on Thursday. His other top suitors were Yale, Princeton, Columbia, Penn State, Virginia Commonwealth, Providence, and Rhode Island.
His announcement was made via a produced video that Holland launched on social media.
Playing Division I basketball, however, was a dream long since launched into the ether. And Holland says he clung to the words even after injuries threatened to blow them away.
“Ever since I was a kid,” he said in a phone interview, “I would imagine myself playing Division I basketball. I never really had any doubts about that. ... But there were definitely [questions] with some of the more serious injuries I’ve had.”
During the fall of his freshman year, Holland broke his right arm in two spots while playing goalie in soccer. Later that year, Holland also broke his right leg while playing basketball.
The injuries, he says, never changed his dreams, but made him question if he’d be the same player.
“I thought about that when I was injured, but I always had the [dream] of playing Division I basketball,” he said. “Always. I wanted to talk it into existence and wish it into existence.”
If Penn’s wish list includes adding versatility to a roster that already has considerable depth at guard, Holland could fit well.
Brandon Williams, who coaches in Philly Pride’s AAU program, said Holland had been known as a scorer with a consistent jump shot, a passion for defense, and similar versatility to former Friends' Central star De’Andre Hunter — the No. 4 overall pick in the 2019 NBA draft — who also played for Philly Pride before winning a national championship at Virginia.
Williams added that Holland — who has a nearly 6-foot-10-inch wing span — added more skill at point guard during his junior season at Friends' Central.
“He’s become a lot better at making plays [for others],” Williams said via phone. “I think that suits Penn’s offense. They’re big on moving the ball, spreading the floor, and having guys that can shoot it.”
Williams coached Holland during the summer of 2019 when Philly Pride won the Under Armour Association Under-16 national championship in Georgia.
COVID-19 made AAU opportunities sparse this summer, but Holland has participated in a few events since July. He says he hopes the pandemic won’t also scuttle his senior basketball season at Friends' Central.
He remains excited, though, that many friends, teachers, coaches, and family members will have opportunities to see him play next season.
Holland is also considering pursuit of a pre-med track at Penn. Becoming a medical doctor who is involved in sports is yet another dream he may one day make a reality. But not until he’s had a chance, he said, to realize his dream of playing professionally in the NBA or overseas.
“With [Penn], it never felt like a recruiter-recruitee relationship,” he said of why he chose the Quakers. “It felt more fluid and more personal. They were like family.”
“And definitely,” he added, “the opportunity to get a degree from Penn. After, of course, the basketball stops bouncing…”