Sep 3, 2013
This story originally appeared in the Fall 2013 edition of the Buzz Magazine.
By Matt Winkeljohn
They’re going on five years side-by-side so it’s no stretch to label seniors Daniel Miller and Kammeon Holsey a rare tandem. College basketball players don’t often spend five years in a program, let alone two at the exact same time, yet Georgia Tech has a pair.
These bigs are simultaneously simpatico, although not so much peas in a pod as a pea and a garbanzo bean.
Small, Georgia towns produced each — Miller hails from Loganville, Holsey from Sparta. Although they’ve never been roommates (a basketball staffer sets living arrangements), they hang out so much that Holsey says, “To me, he’s just like another brother. We can talk about anything; we’re like this.” And Miller reports, “We’ve become good friends, and we kind of see eye-to-eye on stuff.”
It’s true; sometimes the slightest eye contact from one prompts hysterical laughter from the other. Matter of fact, they’re not serious very often, and definitely unique apart.
Miller is a 6-foot-11 ½ shot-blocking center whom coaches have to goose into attack mode on offense. Even Holsey says, “I’m always telling Dan to be aggressive. I’ll be like, ‘Dan, go at ’em.'” Holsey is a 6-8 ½ forward/pogo stick of whom Miller says, “sometimes you have to calm down.”
They are two of Tech’s three team captains (Jason Morris is the third), and both young men have goods on the other. Think of big Daniel Miller, he of few words delivered in a bass that resonates as low thunder, super wide shoulders, sleepy eyes and deliberate gait. Now, let Holsey alter your view:
“You should see him in a golfing suit, in his hat, his shoes, shorts and shirt. At 6-11 ½ playing golf? It’s funny. He loves to fish and hunt. He’s a country dude,” Holsey says. “And every now and then, he’ll dance. You have to catch him at the right time.”
Turns out these guys bust out their moves in the locker room before games.
“It’s nothing you want to see,” Miller says with a hardy laugh. “It entertains those guys when one of the white guys will dance, especially me because I’m the big, goofy one. Kam dancing is one of the funniest things I’ve ever seen. He takes a lot of pride in it.
“He’s got this one move that he’ll do before every game. He’s got his go-to dance move. He likes using the arms at first, back and forth, and then some kind of Irish leprechaun dance to end it.”
When Holsey gets his jig on, that tends to give Miller happy feet, too.
There was no dancing when first they met.
It was late summer in 2008, and they were opponents just before senior years in high school. Miller’s AAU team – the Georgia Ballers – met the Georgia Stars and future Jackets Holsey and Glen Rice, Jr., in a championship game at Westlake High.
“They kind of took us as a joke. We had a bunch of good guys; they were just smaller,” Miller says.
“When we played them, they had all those good stars – Kenny Hall who went to Tennessee, Glen, Kam … so we shouldn’t have won that game.”
The Ballers won, and Miller was the BIGgest reason.
“I remember thinking, ‘Man, he’s a big kid,'” Holsey says. “I just know he blocked everything, and finished around the rim. He was throwing everything out.”
They met again in June of ’09 at Tech, although Miller first signed a letter of intent with Georgia only to ask for and be granted his release after UGA fired coach Dennis Felton.
There have been other transitions: Tech fired Paul Hewitt, the coach who recruited both players, after ’10-’11, and in ’11-’12 the Jackets played home games in Gwinnett and Philips Arena as Alexander Memorial Coliseum was converted to McCamish Pavilion.
On the last day of ’09 summer classes, he tore an anterior cruciate knee ligament playing in the Atlanta Pro-Am league popular among current and former Tech players.
“Derrick Favors, who had played a game or two [and suffered a facial laceration] told me I shouldn’t play. I says, ‘If we win, we’re going to the championship,'” Holsey recalls. “Jarrett Jack was playing [for the opposing team], and Will Bynum and Josh Smith. I got a rebound, took a dribble, made a spin move, and my knee kind of buckled.”
Holsey’s injury led to more time with Miller as they red-shirted, and worked out.
“The more I got to know him, I realized he has a sense of humor. He’s a funny guy,” Holsey says. “I call him Big Goofy sometimes. He’ll ask me where I get my energy.”
That hasn’t been one of the changes.
If Holsey’s not a get-it-and-gun-it guy, he’s in the zip code and good at it. His eagerness begs an occasional turnover, though, and coaches aren’t the only ones coaching.
“There’s times when … he’ll do too much when his best move is just to do the hook shot that goes in 80 percent of the time,” Miller says. “A lot of times, he gets called for traveling. He gets excited. Now, everybody knows his reputation and sends a double [team] because they know he’s not passing.
“I try to help him out as much as I can. At times, because he was coming off the bench, he felt like he had to cover for time that he’d missed and he’d rush everything.”
Miller, too, needs peer pressure.
Holsey says, “I tell him to take the mindset that nobody can stop you. I say, ‘Be hungry like you haven’t eaten in three or four days. You’re starving, and you’ve got to eat.'”
They’re both driven. Holsey is on track to graduate in May with a degree in Science, Technology and Culture, and Miller will walk with paper in Business Management. And they both drive.
“He loves talking about his girlfriend, and showing me pictures of the flowers he sends her . . . I’m getting him good,” Miller says. “He probably gives me more rides than I give him. The other day I did take him to Walmart, because we had to put his new bike in the car. He and his girlfriend have a bike thing going.”
Imagine! Wouldn’t it be something to see video of Kam Holsey on a two-wheeler?
Miller’s smiling when he says, “I’ve got it all right here.”