Holloway sees home in USC


COLUMBIA -- Murphy Holloway plans to go to college 20 minutes from where he grew up. All it took was a two-year detour through Mississippi, and an unexpected event, to get to South Carolina.

The 6-7 forward made it official Wednesday morning that he'll transfer from Ole Miss to South Carolina -- even though that's precisely where the Rebels didn't want him to wind up.

Speaking at a news conference at his high school, Irmo's Dutch Fork, Holloway said he's transferring to be closer to family -- specifically his 5-month-old daughter, Rihanna, who was in attendance.

"You don't really know what love is until you have a child, especially a little girl," Holloway said, beaming. "You feel different. I mean, not too different, but you've got someone to care about besides just yourself."

Those life-changing decisions are sometimes difficult to make, and this one counts. Sacrifice is certainly involved.

Holloway would have had to sit out a year no matter where he landed, so long as it was a Division I program. But because Ole Miss refused his release to South Carolina (or Clemson), he'll have to foot the bill for school in the coming year. He plans to enroll at USC in August.

Also because of that refusal by Rebels AD Pete Boone, for now, the Gamecocks can't have contact with Holloway -- or even acknowledge the decision he announced Wednesday. So don't look for public comment anytime soon from coach Darrin Horn or anyone from USC.

Much the same as it did with Malik Cooke last year when he decided to come the same way from Nevada, the school can talk about Holloway when he actually enrolls.

That might cause some to wonder how Holloway knows he's wanted by Horn and USC. Just because he can't have direct contact doesn't mean a third-party intermediary couldn't make sure there was an open locker and roster spot for the athletic wing, who averaged 10.1 points and 7.6 rebounds a game last season at Ole Miss.

"I hope I'm welcome," Holloway said. "I think I'd be a great fit for the program. I hope I'm welcome. I think I will be, but nothing's set."

At least there's some finality (maybe) in this saga. For the past few weeks, Holloway has been weighing his options. He claimed Wednesday that he hadn't made up his mind about the Gamecocks, for sure, until Tuesday evening.

Holloway said he was also considering Charleston, Coastal Carolina and Winthrop -- schools that Ole Miss had OK'd. Once, Clemson was on that list. But Boone perceived there was some sort of tampering on the Tigers' end -- school officials have denied that, publicly and privately -- and struck a line through Clemson.

Once that happened, and paying his own way became an option, Holloway figured why not stay home -- as close to family as you can get.

In the end, the decision to block the road to Clemson backfired on Ole Miss and coach Andy Kennedy, who had given Holloway his blessing to do as he saw fit.

Still, you'll have to wait until November 2011 to see Holloway on the floor.

Reach Travis Haney at thaney@postandcourier.com. check out the Gamecocks blog at postandcourier.com/blogs/gamecocks and follow him on Twitter (@gamecocksblog).