Perhaps Kammeon Holsey’s enduring contribution to Georgia Tech can be explained this way. Holsey has had significant soreness in his right knee this season, enough to limit him in practice. It is the residue of an ACL tear in 2009, just before the start of his first season at Tech.
Holsey described the condition as “like a little arthritis.” The key part, though, is that he also referred to it as “nothing serious.”
Holsey will play his final home game for the Yellow Jackets on Saturday at McCamish Pavilion, against Virginia Tech (2 p.m., ESPN2). Holsey has never led the Jackets in scoring or rebounding for a season, mostly playing a partnering role with center Daniel Miller. He has been a sixth man for most of the past two seasons. He is feverishly aggressive, if still a bit unpolished, when he has the ball in the post.
Those facets of his career have helped nudge the Jackets forward. But it will be his infusion of toughness and drive that will be indelible.
“He’s a battler,” coach Brian Gregory said. “You have to have those in your program, especially when you’re rebuilding, guys that bring it every single day.”
Barring injury, Holsey will end his career having played all but one game in his Tech career, missing a game as a freshman because of illness. He has been a resolute scorer in the post, making 53.4 percent of his field-goal attempts this season and averaging 7.3 points per game in an average of about 21 minutes of action. For the past two seasons, he has been an energy source off the bench behind Miller and forward Robert Carter.
He has done so despite the fact that he was held out of team workouts last summer to limit the impact on his knee and that Gregory said he has had to talk Holsey out of practicing to give him rest.
“It’s there,” Holsey said of bumps and bruises, “but at the end of the day, you know what? You have to do what’s best for the team. It’s not about me. I’m just trying to be positive.”
Holsey credits his upbringing in Sparta, a town of about 1,300 roughly halfway between Macon and Augusta. Holsey’s father, Gary Hill, disciplined him by making him run. Sit-ups and push-ups also were part of his childhood, as were chores such as chopping wood.
It is perhaps not surprising that strength-and-conditioning coach Mike Bewley called Holsey the team’s hardest worker, or that, after starting all 31 of Tech’s games as a sophomore, he accepted the sixth-man role for the past two seasons without complaint.
“What’s interesting is, as a player, he’s very aggressive individually, which is good, but nothing’s more important than the team and nothing’s more important than his teammates,” Gregory said.
Holsey will graduate at the end of the semester with a degree in science, technology and culture. He plans to play professionally, most likely overseas. During his four seasons — not including his 2009-10 redshirt season, when he recovered from the ACL tear — the Jackets have experienced only intermittent success on the court. Holsey considered it with the perspective of someone who discusses an arthritic knee the way others might a scrape.
“I would say it’s been a learning experience,” he said. “It’s made me more strong, more positive. You can look at it good or bad. I don’t look at it bad. I look at it positive because at the end of the day, you’re still standing.”