When looking for someone to take over for him as boys basketball coach at St. Petersburg Catholic, Mike Moran wanted someone with high energy and a high basketball IQ. And he wouldn't mind someone who might be able to lead the Barons back to their glory days when star Aaron Holmes was leading the team to the state final four every year.
So, why not Holmes?
Moran, also SPC's athletic director, confirmed Monday that the Barons' all-time leading scorer and most decorated boys basketball player is the new coach.
"I've been sort of waiting for him to be ready,'' said Moran, who resigned last week after 13 seasons to focus on his AD duties. "He was the one I reached out to when I figured out this is what I wanted to do. I think he's the perfect fit."
Holmes, 26, remains the only Tampa Bay area player named the Times' All-Suncoast Player of the Year — which spans Pasco, Hernando, Hillsborough and Pinellas counties — three times. He won the award after averaging 20.8 points and 6.5 rebounds as a sophomore, 26.1 and 7.0 as a junior and 27.8 and 6.5 as a senior, and is the second-leading scorer in Pinellas County history with more than 2,000 points in his career.
In each of those years, he helped the Barons to the state tournament in Lakeland, including a loss in the championship game in 2004.
His senior season in 2005-06 he was named the Class 3A Player of the Year and was second in Florida's Mr. Basketball voting, behind Nick Calathes.
"When Coach resigned, he gave me a call and said he was interested in bringing me on,'' Holmes said. "I was thrilled. I just want to thank Coach Moran, Father Mike (Conway) and (principal) John McMahon for the opportunity. It's a blessing and a privilege.''
Holmes played collegiately at Florida State, USF and Tulane, and had opportunities to coach in college at some entry-level positions. But his Aaron Holmes Elite Basketball organization, which trains and develops local players, holds camps and fields AAU teams, has been successful and he did not want to leave the area despite the itch to coach.
Holmes said he is well aware of the rules regarding AAU basketball and high school ball, and the Florida High School Athletic Association's rules against players following their offseason coaches and trainers to the high schools where they now coach. He will continue running AHElite.
Holmes, who grew up in Clearwater, is ready to begin conditioning at SPC.
"Once I get there, I'm going to work as hard at it as I can,'' he said. "I want to provide that spark we once had, bring that excitement back.
"Ever since I knew I was going to be taking over, I've been so excited. I've been looking over film, I talked to Stan Heath and asked to come out there and watch practices. I played for some great college coaches and I think I learned a lot from each one, and I'll use that in my coaching. I'm excited and ready to get after it."
Moran, the head coach since 2000, was 248-117 with six district championships and three region titles.
"He did a great job,'' Holmes said, "and that just puts a little more pressure on me. But I'm ready."
John C. Cotey can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter @JohnnyHomeTeam.