By Matt Caputo
Jerome “Fridge”/”Circus” Holman is so serious on the streetball scene he has two nicknames. A highly mobile point guard with almost psychic court vision, Circus is easily one of New York’s most slept-on point guards. The Brooklyn native and former Wichita State standout has dominated the blacktop, taking home the AND1 mixtape tour’s open contract in 2006. When AND1 consolidated their tour, Circus signed to play under the newest streetball banner, Ball4Real. After a few months, Circus asked out of his contract and is now hoping to find a stepping-stone into the NBA.
SLAM: What was the Ball4Real tour like?
CIRCUS: It was set-up just like the AND1 tour was. Thirty cities and an elimination process, it was pretty crazy. It was something I loved doing. It was cool for the beginning of the summer. I’m not on the team anymore. I left about a month ago, I asked to get out of my deal as soon as we came back from South America. When I won the AND1 contract in 2006, we had the split and I didn’t really know what was going on. Me being the new guy, I was just looking for the best situation for myself financially. I didn’t really care about the name of the tour or what city we were going to. I was just trying to make as much bread as possible. I should have been part of the AND1 team, me and Ryan Williams, who is Special FX, but we were told there wasn’t going to be an AND1 tour. I signed with Ball4Real and then AND1 offered me twice the amount. We couldn’t get out of the deal, so we went on the Ball4Real tour. They knew we weren’t happy. I won the contract, but I didn’t have any money at the time, because I took the Ball4Real contact when they said there wasn’t going to be an AND1 tour. Right now, I’m about to go to San Diego and see about playing in the ABA. I have a lot of teams hollering at me.
SLAM: How did the crowd respond to the Ball4Real movement?
CIRCUS: It was cool, certain markets know who you are. Especially like, Spyda, Main Event, the older guys and myself are always going to be linked to AND1. Even know we came through in the big Ball4Real tour bus, the fans still knew who we were and knew that we’d been with AND1. They showed us love, but in other markets it was hard because the name AND1 is so huge that if you weren’t looking for the Ball4Real world tour, it’s easy to pass that by. The AND1 World Tour is something that will draw more fans. Some markets were slower than others, but if somebody likes my game it doesn’t matter what I was playing with. In that way, we got a lot of love.
SLAM: There have been some rumors about them not coming back next summer. Do you know anything official?
CIRCUS: As far as me, I don’t know if AND1 is going to re-sign me, but I’m just waiting around to see what happens. I’m not messing with Ball4Real anymore. I have no idea, as of right now, I communicate with some of the players, but I haven’t spoken with anyone from the front office, so I don’t know what is going to happen to that tour. I don’t even want to know.
SLAM: For our readers who don’t know you, where did you grow up?
CIRCUS: I grew up in Brooklyn and played high school ball in New Jersey. I was playing for Brooklyn USA, an AAU team, and I was the #1 8th grader in New York. I went to Junior High School 113 in Fort Greene, Brooklyn. My coach, Ziggy Sicignano, used to have me playing with the senior team when I was in the eight grade. He would have me in Las Vegas and all these tournaments playing with older guys and I was being rated pretty high. I won two city titles in 8th grade, so I had all the big NYC basketball high schools, like, recruiting me and coming to my house, it was crazy to me at the time.
Once I saw St.Patricks (Elizabeth, NJ) schedule and that they had a McDonald’s All-American point-guard who was a senior it was a no-brainer for me. We didn’t have anybody on the team from Elizabeth. They recruited, we had guys from Haiti and Africa, it was just a big program. I was bouncing around a lot, but Al Harrington and I came in the same year. He was a sophomore, but we clicked from the start. I was living with coaches, bouncing around and taking the train. Sometimes I would get on the NJ Transit at 5:30 in the morning just to make practice. I started living with the Harringtons my whole junior year. They would just take care of me. They still call me family and Al’s moms is more like my Aunt. They look out.
SLAM: What kind of attention did you get while you were in high school?
CIRCUS: I was getting looks from everybody. I verbally committed to the University of Miami and it was just a bad situation because I didn’t get the score I needed. Right when I was getting ready to sign, Coach Leonard Hamilton left and Coach Clark came in and didn’t want to Pro-48 me. See Coach Hamilton, he was going to let me come and sit-out and still have my four years. The signing period hadn’t started, but I was basically telling all these other schools that I was going to Miami.
SLAM: How did you end up in JUCO?
CIRCUS: The same Assistant Coach from Miami sent me to a Junior College in Texas, Trinity Valley. It was cool, being a New York City guard there is nothing like having the coach just give you the ball and let you be in charge. Basketball players, I think, play better when they aren’t worried about the coach or a sub or something like that. I went out there and really killed in the top JUCO conference in the nation.
SLAM: Talk about your career at Wichita State?
CIRCUS: Back to the grade situation. When I was in Trinity Valley, I was that dude in the school who made some bad decisions school wise. In Texas, it’s the only state where you have to take a exit exam to get out of junior college. I B.S.’d the test a couple of times, so I would have had no option but to go D-2. Wichita State saw me play in our JUCO conference tournament, which all the coaches come see. I never heard of Wichita State at the time. They wanted me so bad that they sent me to another JUCO in Kansas, just down the road, where I sat our the entire year and got my grades up. I still got to play for Wichita State for two years. Being from New York, before going to the league, your dream is to go D-1, so I went to Butler C.C. and got my score. I had a solid career, I lead the Missouri Valley in assists in both my junior and senior years. I had a lot of injuries though, my first year I missed 18 games with a broken foot. I couldn’t redshirt because I had just used a year to get my grades up. I played 12 conference games and I lead the conference in assits. We went to the NIT and got eliminated. Senior year, I played well, but the coach held me back and didn’t let me do my NY thing. I averaged 10.7 assits and was 2nd Team All-Conference.
SLAM: You then helped the Long Island ABA team go pretty far in the playoffs, right?
CIRCUS: I didn’t get much pro looks. My coach didn’t like the flash. As soon as I left school, me and AL Harrington were working out a lot. We’ve been close and tight friends since high school. He was on my team and I used to live with his family down in Jersey. Him and his agent helped me out a little bit.. I bounced around, ABA, USBL and grinded. I was just around New York and people were wondering what I was doing. If I was playing. A lot of the New York guys know who I am and Mike Campbell (NIKE Battle Grounds champ) called me and asked me to come out and play with the Sound.
From the first day I got there I was the starting point guard. That was a time when I was back on the scene. I played in the ABA GREAT EIGHT and had 40 point or something. In the semi-final game I had like my teams first 16 points and then I straight my shoulder and we ended up losing. I had scouts from all over the place. The Indiana Pacers wanted me to come to summer league. I was like really out in the market again. Mike Ellis, the AND1 coach, had got me some AND1 games before that. He wasn’t trying to sign me or anything, but he was trying to get me some shine and put some cash in my pocket. I promised him I would do the AND1 contract. So I did the AND1 in the summer and I ended up winning. I was stuck because I didn’t know if I should go overseas or take this $100,000, stay in the states and be on TV. I ended up staying.
SLAM: What are your biggest goals for yourself?
CIRCUS: I’m going to San Diego this weekend to see what kind of deal I can get out there. I’m back out there and really trying to be running this offense instead of doing the streetball thing. But, if AND1 comes with a good offer that I can’t turn down being that I need some money I would re-sign. If not, I’m trying to get back out there on the pro level. Bascially, I think I’m one of the most underrated players in this era of New York City guys. I go home and these guys have big jobs overseas and I’ll be crushing them when they get home. I’m not seen enough, New York people know, but they don’t realy know how good I can play around the world. Basically, my goal is to get seen and take it to the highest level. It might be in the D-League or a big contract overseas, or whatever. Even if I have to do this ABA thing and climb some ladders. I just want to get out there and get seen.
SLAM: How much longer do you want to play streetball?
CIRCUS: I don’t know, I had to very fun, very successful years. So if I walked away it wouldn’t be because I got cut or anything like that. I never looked at myself doing it forever. When you get out of school you need to get some money, a house, a car and that kind of stuff. I love to hoop, so if the money is there I will do it. I just turned 26, so I have a couple of more years to really get it in.
SLAM: So for the record is it “Fridge” or is it “Circus”?
CIRCUS: Fridge is like my name growing up in every school I ever went to. I never went by Jerome. They called me “Fridge” Holman, in ever place I played that’s what the announcer would say. “Introducing 5-10 guard, Fridge Holman.” It’s almost like my government name. I guess it comes from just being hood, I don’t know where it came from. I asked my moms and she doesn’t even know. It really stuck. And “Circus,” I got that playing in I.S.8 when I was 13-14-years-old. The MC on the mic, Pete, said “He’s clowning ya’ll, we’re going to start calling him “The Circus.” I went and got the tattoo and I just kept it for whenever I do the streetball thing.
SLAM: How old were you when you got the tattoo?
CIRCUS: I was 14 and going into the 8th grade.
SLAM: Wow, that’s pretty hard.
CIRCUS: Yeah, my freshman year I had about three or four already.