Inspector Gadget has the bling and the game
Appeal Sports Writer
Check out Carson Senators guard Will Holbert, yo.
Dude’s stylin’. Got those diamond earrings happening, got the brim turned sideways and face it, Holmes, the man’s got some rollin’ attire.
And as teammate and fellow new schooler David Eller puts it, “He’s a straight up baller.”
Quick translation for the old schoolers: Holbert’s fashion statement puts the “hip” in hip hop and he can flat out play basketball.
He’s also an entertainer that brings along his own soundtrack.
“Even when there’s no music he can beat-box a song,” Eller says. “He can get some rhythm going. He can make up his own beat. He knows how to bust some moves. He can walk it out – all the dance moves.”
Surely such a colorful character has a nickname. Is it “The King of Bling?” “Will the Thrill?”
Actually, it’s “Inspector Gadget.”
“I don’t even know how it got started,” Holbert says. “Maybe it’s my earrings, the way I act. When they saw I jump high, they said I have all these gadgets.”
And to paraphrase the animated hero in “Inspector Gadget” movie, Don’t worry, Chief, he’s always on duty.
“Will’s an all-around athlete,” Eller says. “Give him the ball and he’ll score it. No matter what way – traffic, anything – he gets the job done. He doesn’t like to lose. He brings some challenge to you if you want to step up to him. He won’t go down without a fight. He’s a good friend, a good student and an all-around good kid. All-round, he’s the man.”
Call it givin’ him props, call it solid accolades, call it what you will, the 6-foot-1 Holbert has been bringing his “A” game for the Senators, who in spite of graduating seven seniors last year are 14-13 this year and will meet North Valleys tonight in the play-in game for the fourth seed in the Northern 4A regional playoffs at Damonte Ranch High School.
Holbert has averaged a team-leading 13 points and seven rebounds per game in Sierra League play in his first season on the varsity team and has drawn some praise from seventh-year Carson coach Bruce Barnes (who wears his hat bill forward and wouldn’t be caught dead wearing earrings).
“He brings energy and he’s very confident in what he can contribute,” Barnes says. “He’s very competitive and has a competitive nature. He’s pretty well rounded and he’s obviously one of our top shooters. He has a nose for the ball. It’s more of him wanting the ball. He follows the ball. It’s natural. We can’t teach him the feel for the ball. He just gets it.”
On a team Barnes says is loaded with personalities, Holbert shines as brightly as his diamond earrings.
“He’s already accepted his role as one of the leaders on the team,” Barnes says. “He’s got leadership, confidence and swagger. He plays with a chip on his shoulder. He believes he can come into the gym and do what he wants to do.”
Barnes says Holbert’s competitive nature can be a double-edged sword. Part bravado, part WWE star John Cena, Holbert can just be his competitive and fiery self and raise his opponents’ ire.
After saying how he’d love to play North Valleys so his team can win the rubber match (the teams split their regular-season series), he said he’d like to play Galena, the High Desert League’s No. 1 seed and the team awaiting the winner of the Senators-Panthers game.
“It’s all about (Galena’s junior forward Luke) Babbitt,” Holbert said of the Grizzlies’ highly touted and highly recruited star player. “It’s going to be a hard game. I’d like to play them and show what we’re made of. We all wanted to make the playoffs at the beginning of the year, but everyone said we were too small.
“I’d like to play Brice Crook (who left Carson for Galena). I’d like to play against Babbitt. Make him prove it, see what he’s got. We scrimmaged in the summer. I don’t take anything away from him. But they think if they play us, they’ll run all over us. I don’t think that’s how it’s going to be.”
In the NBA, such enthusiasm would be twisted into bulletin-board material.
“You have to push it in the right direction,” Barnes says of Holbert’s swagger and self-assurance. “Some of it isn’t always construed by the referees and other players as a positive. We’ve had to put it in check. He has to channel it into an asset, not a negative.
“It’s what separates a good player from an average player. You can have the tools, but if you don’t have a chip on your shoulder, it stops there. But if you have the chip plus the talent, you can go quite a ways.”
And nothing fires up a team like a player with a little attitude who’s willing to back up his talk.
“Will Holbert, he’s the leader in practices,” Eller says. “He encourages the team to play better, harder. He gets us pumped up in the middle of the huddle. Dude, he’s a leader.”
“He always goes after it,” says sophomore guard Matt Rutledge, who along with Holbert plays on Carson’s football team. “He never lets up. He’s like a spark plug. When everyone’s down, he’ll make a great play. He puts a spark in it.”
Sophomore forward Paul Cagle, who along with Eller and juniors Caleb Carter, Rob Valerius, Markus Adams and Jordan Miller have played with or against Holbert since middle school, says his hyperkinetic teammate leads by example.
“He’s doing awesome,” Cagle says of Holbert. “He’s the guy who brings the fire. He gets the guys going. He makes everybody else want to work hard by pushing the ball and working hard. His playing runs off on me – quite a bit, actually.”
Holbert, an All-Sierra League honorable mention choice at wide receiver, led the Senators with seven touchdown receptions and isn’t afraid to get physical, whether it’s on the football field or on the basketball court.
“He loves the contact,” Cagle says. “He’s pretty physical. He likes to bump. He can get to the basket and jump a bit. He’s getting good at getting to the basket and getting fouled and drawing some contact.”
Barnes says because Holbert played football, he had some catching up to do early in the season.
“He missed basketball class and he was a little behind in what he needed to do,” Barnes says. “It took him the majority of the preseason to figure it all out. He knows that defense is his biggest weakness. It doesn’t have to be because of his athleticism.
“He’s been able to get by on pure athleticism. But at the varsity level, he has to have more than athleticism and use good fundamentals. What I like about him is he’s a multi-athlete guy. I think he’s more comfortable now.”
After making some initial adjustments, Holbert says everything fell into place.
“In the beginning I was trying to get used to the team and the tempo,” he says. “Once league started, I started playing well. People started to follow and I became a leader. We get along well; that helps. I’ve played with the guys since middle school.”
Holbert embraces the challenge of being a floor general.
“I like it a lot. It gives me a reason to play,” Holbert says. “I go out there every game and help them bring their confidence up and get a win. I like being a leader.”
And like his animated namesake, Carson’s Inspector Gadget would like nothing better than to leave his opponents raving, “I’ll get you next time, Gadget! Next time!”