Michelle Smith Women’s Basketball Feature: Colorado's Mya Hollingshed
The day that Mya Hollingshed stood up in front of her teammates and spoke as part of the process to become team captain for the 2020-21 season is not a day that Colorado head coach J.R. Payne ever thought she would see.
“If you had told me four years ago when she got here that she would have done that, I wouldn’t have believed it,” Payne said. “It’s been incredible to watch her grow up. She has not just improved her game over the past four years. Every area of her life has improved, academically, socially, her confidence.”
Hollingshed was selected by her teammates to be one of their captains in her senior season in Boulder, an honor that is a tribute to the leader she has become on and off the floor.
Hollingshed, the senior forward from Houston, is off to a strong start for a Buffaloes team that hopes a strong start is in their immediate future as well. Hollingshed has a pair of double-doubles in her first two games, 19 points and 11 rebounds in the opener against Western Colorado on November 25, and a 17-point, 11-rebound effort against Air Force on Sunday in which she was 8-for-9 from the floor.
— Colorado Women's Basketball 🦬 (@CUBuffsWBB) November 28, 2020
Colorado is 2-0 heading into Friday’s difficult opening weekend of Pac-12 play, a road trip that includes Friday’s game against No. 10 Oregon and Sunday’s matchup at No. 17 Oregon State.
“For us to be successful, Mya needs to be consistent,” Payne said.
Hollingshed has been working toward this season since the last one ended.
“I’ve worked on the mental aspect of staying ready and staying prepared to play,” Hollingshed said. “I’ve definitely worked on my ball-handling, and I’ve been working on my low post game and getting a variety of shots down low.”
She has also been working on being a resource for her teammates in a difficult situation.
“It’s been a struggle for everyone,” Hollingshed said. “In a way, though, it’s simpler. The only thing we do is focus on school and basketball. At the end of practice you go home or you only go to the places you need. I think it’s actually helped me personally.”
Payne said the player that arrived to her program four years ago was a raw talent.
“When she was a freshman, she was the player that everyone who walked into the gym would stop and say, ‘Who is that kid?’” Payne said. “She is long and lean and athletic and smooth and she had no idea how to play basketball, or work hard, or get into a defensive stance. She was just a long piece of potential.”
But Hollingshed has improved steadily through the years, averaging 6.8 points a game as a freshman, to 10.8 as a sophomore, to 13.1 points last season and now is averaging a game-changing 18 points and 11 rebounds in the early days of her final season.
“Everybody feeds off of her,” Payne said. “A couple of years ago, we had injuries and she had to play in the low post. At 6-3, 165, she is not built for the low block. She had to expand her game. She’s been able to develop a well-rounded game. It’s nothing for her to go 18-for-20 from three in a shooting drill. She’s become really versatile and that allows us to play off of her.”
Hollingshed said her team is cohesive on and off the court.
“I think we have a talented group right now, really unselfish,” Hollingshed said. “We have fun. People want to play together and play hard. They are buying into what the coaches are saying and we want to get better. We definitely think we can be a contender every night. We have toughness and grit.”