Riders duo named to 2024 British Basketball League All-Star Team

Leicester Riders duo Teddy Allen and Jaren Holmes have been voted 2024 British Basketball League All-Star starters. 

They will suit up for the South, alongside London Lions guard Matthew Morgan and forward Sam Dekker, and Bristol Flyers center Brad Greene at the Copper Box Arena on March 24. 

Allen is the League’s leading scorer, and has been named captain after amassing the most votes of any player in the South. Since signing with the Riders in mid-December, he’s putting up 26.4 points and 6.7 rebounds, while shooting 47.6% from the field and a red-hot 46.5% from three in the Championship. 

Allen commented: “It always feels good to be recognised for what you do, in any light. Thank you to all the fans who took the time to vote!”

Holmes was the highest-voted player in the guard position in the South.  He is logging 13.3 points, 4.3 rebounds and 1.2 steals per game in the Championship this season, impressing in his rookie year. 

Holmes commented: “It’s an honour to be voted an All-Star. I’m grateful to my teammates for putting me in the situations to be successful, and to the coaching staff for believing in my abilities day in and day out.

“Thank you the fans for voting me in, especially with this being my rookie year. I’m super excited to be making memories that will last a lifetime. I can’t wait to be there, and have a good time with the rest of the players.”

The full starting fives for the All-Star game are as follows.

PositionNorthSouth
GuardLarry Austin Jr. (c) –Newcastle EaglesMatthew Morgan- London Lions
GuardJordan Johnson- Newcastle EaglesJaren Holmes- Leicester Riders
ForwardAaryn Rai- Cheshire PhoenixTeddy Allen (c)- Leicester Riders
ForwardTajh Green- Newcastle EaglesSam Dekker- London Lions
CenterEthan Chargois- Cheshire Phoenix Brad Greene- Bristol Flyers

The remainder of the team will be chosen by the two head coaches, Caledonia Gladiators’ Gareth Murray for the North and London Lions’ Petar Bozic for the South. 

The reserves will be revealed on February 29. 

Get your tickets to the game here!

Five things we learned from facing the Lions

Last night, the Riders went toe to toe with the table-topping London Lions, falling just short in a 102-94 loss.

Here’s what we can learn from the fixture.

Hanging with the best

From wire to wire, this Riders roster showed it could compete with the best the British Basketball League has to offer. It was a one-score game at the end of the second and third quarters before the Lions found late form in the fourth. 

It was just a four-point game late after Miryne Thomas’ layup in close, the Riders hanging around until the final buzzer. 

After their blowout of the Eagles last time out, and pushing London all the way, Leicester are growing into the season and establishing themselves as a contender for the top end of the table game by game. 

Caleb’s tenacity 

Last night’s Wok 68 Player of the Game was Caleb Asberry, who covered every inch of the floor in an energetic display. 

Asbery’s infectious energy spread through the entire Arena, snatching the ball of the Lions three times, including a timely steal on Donte Grantham to end the half, which led to two important points. 

He finished with a stat line of 16 points, 9 rebounds, three steals and three blocks, all worth an index rating of 30. He made his mark all over the stat sheet and kept the Riders in the tie through heart and hustle. 

Offence clicked into gear

The Riders’ offence has been a strength all season, but in this one it showed it can contest with the League’s most productive and high-firing unit. 

Four of the Riders starters scored in double-digit points, Xavier Pinson missing out by only one, and Kimbal Mackenzie made an incredible impact off the bench with 17. 

Competing with a Lions side that had three 20-point scorers on the game, the Riders have consistently found multiple plates who can put the ball in the basket up and down the roster. 

Led by Jaren Holmes’ 18 points, topping the Riders’ scoring charts once again, the Riders shot 47% from the field and 35% from three, their killer efficiency allowing them to go blow for blow with the Lions.

After their 111-point scoring night against the Eagles, the Riders have proven their ability to blow anybody out of the water on any given night. 

Recipe for rebounding  

After having difficulty on the defensive glass throughout the season, the Riders had no such issues last night. 

They kept the Lions off the offensive boards completely for three and a half quarters to secure every defensive possession and won the offensive rebounding battle 9-5 by the finish. 

It was a group rebounding effort, with five Riders finishing the game with four or more, and all but one player contributing to the rebounding tally. 

It’s a momentous step in the right direction should the Riders find the same success against the Cheshire Phoenix. 

The sixth man

The Riders fed off the Morningside crowd all evening long, allowing them to battle back from deficits and keep it a game throughout. 

Your energy spurred the team on and came agonisingly close to getting us over the line for a hard-fought win. 

Thank you for your incredible support, and we need you back behind the team on November 25 as we take on the Manchester Giants!

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Jaren Holmes named to Team of the Week

Jaren Holmes has been named to the British Basketball Team of the week.

This comes following the Michigan guard’s 28 points, five rebounds and four assists in the Riders’ 111-88 win against the Newcastle Eagles on Saturday.

Holmes’ has hit the ground running in his first professional season, leading the team with 14.4 points per game. His 28 points against the Eagles marks his highest tally of the season, after putting up 18 points on two occasions earlier in the season.

“I’m very thankful to be a Rider, and it was a great team victory,” said Holmes after Saturday’s win. “I couldn’t have scored that many points without the team. We were moving the ball really well.

“Everything we work on in practice is coming on the court. The guards did a great job of driving and kicking, and I was ready to knock down the shots. I’m thankful my teammates trust me to make shots. I put myself in a position to make plays, and I was able to make them today.”

Head Coach Rob Paternostro spoke highly about his rookie guard: “He’s a big-time player. He’s the first in every day and the last one out. He’s a great competitor, and he had some great looks from all over today.

“What I liked is the variation in his play. It was the three-ball and the floaters in close that saw him get points on the board. It was a really versatile game from him today.”


Want to see Holmes in action?

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Riders react to win against the Eagles

The Riders improved to 6-4 after a 111-88 win against the Newcastle Eagles. Here’s how the Riders reacted to the blowout win…

Jaren Holmes

Rookie guard Jaren Holmes led the game with his best performance of the season, putting up 28 points, five rebounds and four assists. 

He explained his feelings after the game. 

“It feels amazing. I’m very thankful to be a Rider, and it was a great team victory. I couldn’t have scored that many points without the team. We were moving the ball really well tonight.

“Everything we work on in practice is coming on the court. The guards did a great job of driving and kicking, and I was ready to knock down the shots. I’m thankful my teammates trust me to make shots. I put myself in a position to make plays, and I was able to make them today.”

The game was in the balance at the half, before a monster third quarter saw the Riders blow the game wide open. The message at halftime was to trust in the team’s ability.

“We were told to stay the course and trust our brand of basketball. We didn’t get into all the extra stuff and just played basketball. I know a lot has been made of our rivalry with Newcastle, but that’s not how we try and play basketball, and I’m thankful we showed that.

“Coach Rob put us in a position to be successful today, and we followed the gameplan to a tee.”

Rob Paternostro 

Following the Riders’ impressive victory, Head Coach Rob Paternostro was proud of the way the team responded from falling down double digits in the opening quarter. 

“After the first quarter, we played a solid game. The points off of turnovers were the problem early, so once we got control of that and we were able to get our defence set up, we improved as the game went on.”

The Riders’ bench outscored the Eagles 51-15, their depth proving the difference in the tie. 

“Our depth was important again today. We’re playing 10 players throughout the game, which allows our defensive pressure to pick up as the game goes on. Tonight, we wore them down by the end, and that’s one of our biggest strengths.”

Reacting to Holmes’ career night, Paternostro praised the work ethic of the Iowa State graduate. 

“He’s a big-time player. He’s the first in every day and the last one out. He’s a great competitor, and he had some great looks from all over today.

“What I liked is the variation in his play. It was the three-ball and the floaters in close that saw him get points on the board. It was a really versatile game from him today.”

Next up for the Riders is the undefeated London Lions. Paternotro stated the importance of preparation going into that game for the Leicester roster brimming with potential. 

“We’re going to have a good week of practice and try and figure them out. No one has yet! They’re a great team that I’ve enjoyed watching this year, so we have a lot of work to do.

“One of the messages this week when we were watching film, was that there’s a long way up for this team. I feel good about that, and it’s exciting for the staff for the rest of the season.”

Blake Bowman

After putting up eight points and four rebounds in 17 minutes of action, athletic wing Blake Bowman reacted to the win. 

“It feels great. We had a lot of energy from the crowd, and I’m super happy with the win.”

“It came from everyone today. To get 111 points, you need contributions from everywhere. Jaren played really well: 28 points is a great performance from him.”

Bowman led the team with 15 points in the Riders’ previous game, the Derby native finding form early in the season. He credits his play to the extended minutes he is beginning to find in the rotation. 

“It’s great getting more opportunities. Getting more touches has made me feel more comfortable, and I’m trying to contribute the best I can.”

Like his coach, Bowman realises the importance of the upcoming week ahead of facing the Lions. 

“It’s super important. They’re the team to beat right now, and we’re going to be locked in. We’ve got to come ready, and I’m sure we’ll do exactly that.”


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Riders review: October summary

October was a busy month of Riders basketball, featuring six games and four road trips.

Here, we take a look back at the month of action.

October games

The Riders went 3-3 across the month of October, facing two doubleheader weekends and four games on the road. They began with a bang, winning 92-85 in a wire-to-wire game on the road against the Eagles, led by Miryne Thomas’ 17 points. 

They followed this up at home a week later, beating the Surrey Scorchers comfortably 91-74. October featured two home games against Surrey. In the second, the Riders pulled off the biggest recorded comeback in British Basketball League history to take the win. 

The Riders fell to the Manchester Giants in the second of back-to-back games, lost another wire-to-wire battle against the Eagles and fell short in the final seconds against the Celadonia Gladiators, as Clifton Moore Jr.’s hookshot sent Leicester back to the East Midlands empty handed. 

Going .500 in October means the Riders sit fifth in the standing with a 5-4 record, two wins behind second. 

Magic Miryne

Leading the team over the month was Miryne Thomas, who averaged 13.5 points and 7.7 rebounds over the six games. His performances earned him a place on the British Basketball Team of the Week twice, leading the Riders scoring in each of their wins. 

His best performance of October was the second of back-to-back 20 point double-doubles as he led the comeback against Surrey. Thomas put up 20 points, 11 rebounds, four assists, two steals and a block in his stat sheet-stuffing effort. 

Thomas’ rebounding efforts have seen him rise the League charts, now ranking seventh in total rebounds among British Basketball League players. 

Jaren Holmes remains the Riders’ leading scorer on the season, after putting up 12.3 points per game over the month. 

Building off the bench

The Riders’ strength in depth continued throughout October, outscoring their opponent’s bench by an average of 8.2 points per game. 

The team had a double-digit scorer off the bench in five of their six October games, Kimbal Mackenzie leading the second unit with 12 points per game. He led the team’s scoring with 22 points in the Riders’ first game against Surrey. 

Leicester’s captain came up huge in the clutch against the Gladiators, making what appeared to be the game-winning basket with seven seconds left. Mackenzie leading the second wave of attack for the Riders is pivotal to their success.  


Want to see the Riders in action?

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Jaren Holmes: Road to the Riders

Sport is in Jaren Holmes’ blood. He and his brother were raised with it, and now, they make careers from it. His brother, William, was drafted to the Los Angeles Angels in the MLB, and Jaren has signed his first professional contract with the Leicester Riders. 

“I was raised by a single mother, and she always put sports in our hearts,” said Holmes, reflecting on his journey. “For as long as I can remember, I’ve always had a ball in my hand.

“I played baseball too until my freshman year in high school. But when I had to choose, I couldn’t live down the fact my little brother was better than me at baseball! So basketball was my choice.

“I’ve always had a great IQ, my grandfather taught me how to play the right way: making the right play, not being selfish, it’s all about winning. That’s how I was raised.

“Now, when I step on the basketball court, it always feels like home. It feels like I’m supposed to be there. It’s peaceful.”

It wasn’t a straight road to the best conference in college basketball, where Holmes completed his final college year. It all started at Ranger Junior College, under legendary coach Billy Gillispie. 

There, he helped them to a berth in the NJCAA Division I championship game, starting all 33 games as a freshman, averaging 12.0 points and winning 31 games. 

“Coach G brings a lot out of you as a player. He has a mentality of everyone leaning on each other to get through all his ways of coaching. Playing for him was one of the hardest things I’ve done in my life. 

“I believe that my body changed in JUCO playing Coach G. The workouts he had us doing were second to none, and prepared my body for D1. I give all the credit to him.

“He moulded me into the player I am today, and I take my body very seriously now.”

And at Ranger, Jaren made lifelong friends. Most notably with Caleb Asberry, who will suit up with him on the Riders roster this season. 

“Caleb and I have been really good friends for about five to six years. We started from the bottom at Ranger, and we had to endure a lot of trials and tribulations to get where we are today. 

“I hold Caleb and his family close to my heart, and we’ve stayed in close contact. Even our mums are close! It’s come full circle now we can play together again, and I’m super excited about that.

“There was nothing to do at Ranger; the town is literally a petrol station and a Subway. We only had each other, and we became brothers. It’s good to be back with my brother again.”

His work at Junior College brought him to the big leagues. St Bonaventure gave him a shot in the NCAA D1, and he took it, proving he belonged at the top level of collegiate sport. 

He scored over 1000 points for the Bonnies, putting up 13.5 points, five rebounds and 3.6 assists in the 2021/22 season. He was named to the Atlantic 10 Second Team All-Conference in 2021. 

Holmes transferred to Iowa State in the Big 12 conference for his final year of college and continued to impress. He was named to the Big 12 All-Newcomer Team and received an All-Big 12 Honorable Mention, playing under Assistant Coach and former Rider JR Blount. 

 “It was amazing to get to D1—a breath of fresh air. I worked so hard to get to that level: through every no, the doubts and people saying I couldn’t play at that level. After all of the hard work, faith, prayer and sacrifice, it was something I could never imagine. I couldn’t believe it.

“I always thought I was supposed to be at that level. I just had to change my body, become more athletic and become a better ball player. I proved that this year. 

“I was able to play in the best conference in the country and not miss a step. I’m tremendously thankful to St Bonaventure and Iowa State for the opportunities they gave me. They both gave me a shot when a whole lot of other teams didn’t.” 

But even after all the rejection and upset that led him to this point, Holmes wouldn’t change a thing. 

“I’d go through every situation, every heartbreak that I had to endure on this journey to make it here to the Riders. It’s made me a better basketball player and a better person. It helped me understand that life is hard, and you’re going to be disappointed throughout it. 

“It doesn’t matter where you want to go, or what you think you deserve. Timing is everything, and I’m a firm believer in waiting for your time and being ready when your name is called. Keep your head down, work and believe in yourself. 

“Keep God first, and no matter the situation, the upset and the heartbreak, I keep my head high and move two feet at a time.”

His assistant coach at Iowa State, Blount, helped recruit Holmes to Leicester. Blount played for the Riders in the 2010/11 season, averaging 20.6 points under Head Coach Rob Paternostro. 

“JR always talked about his time in Leicester and said it was amazing. He said Coach Rob believed in him and trusted him, and let him play his game. When Coach JR brought this opportunity to me, I would never pass it down.

“I had a great conversation with Coach Rob. We talked everything through and I liked what he said: the way he talked about my game, and how he wanted me to play my role. 

“The Riders are the best fit for me because of how they carry their organisation. It’s a well-run club, with a tremendous fanbase.”

Holmes is now ready to build on the success the Riders have had over the last decade. 

“I love basketball, and I love to win. And that’s what the Riders do. They win. 

“I’m excited and happy to be a part of this great organisation. I can’t wait to see the fans go wild. I’ve watched a couple of games already and the fanbase is crazy! I’m super excited.

“I’ll bring a winning attitude and work ethic, and excitement, laughter and intensity. I’m also committed to working hard in the community of Leicester. 

“It’ll be an honour to meet the fans in Leicester. I’m ready to get to work!”

Jaren Holmes: Top 5 Performances

Riders’ new man Jaren Holmes is entering his first professional season following a four-year college career.

The 6’4” guard made a name for himself as an elite scorer and facilitator during his time in the NCAA D1.

Get to know him with some of his best showings. 

Career high 38 points

Holmes exploded for a career-high 38 points in just 37 minutes in his second year for St. Bonaventure Bonnies. It was a sharpshooting clinic, as a red-hot Holmes drained eight threes in his team’s 83-57 win against Saint Joseph’s Hawks. 

He hit a triple to get the action underway, but it was a 28-point second half that blew the game open. He scored 11 straight points in the half to build the lead and lead the Bonnies to a blowout win. 

Holmes dominated the boards as well as the scoring, grabbing 10 rebounds on his way to an emphatic double-double. 

The game is tied for eighth all-time for single-game scoring performances in college history. 

Back-to-back

You could have forgiven Holmes for a down game after his career-high night against St Joe’s. Instead, he went off for 26 points to lead the Bonnies to a 68-54 win against the Fordham Rams.

Holmes hit the dagger with a 1:30 remaining to seal the win, his hot hand staying hot with another five threes in the game. He went 10-16 from the field in a game where neither team found a rhythm on offence.

The win moved the team to 5-1 to start the season, in the midst of a seven-game winning streak.

Holmes went on to average 13.8 points and 5.3 rebounds per game on the season, earning a place on the Atlantic 10 second-team All-Conference honours and was named to the A-10 All-Academic Team for the second year in a row.

Upset on primetime

In a top-25 matchup live on ESPN, Holmes led Iowa State to an upset win against the #5 Kansas State in front of a raucous home crowd.

He had 23 points for the Cyclones in the fight for the Big 12 one-seed, going 8-11 from the field and dishing seven assists.

It was a hard-fought game wire-to-wire, but Holmes cooly knocked down the game-winning free throws, after being sent to the line up two.

A 16-point second half from Holmes saw Iowa State take the win. Holmes led the team to the NCAA Tournament for the second straight year.

Double-double against Coppin State

Playing 37 minutes against the Coppin State Eagles, Holmes went off for 24 points, 10 rebounds and six assists in the Bonnies’ 93-81, going 10-14 from the field and and 3-5 from three.

He made his presence known on both ends, adding two steals and a block to his box score.

The Bonnies won 93-81, kicking off a three-game winning streak as they started Homes’ senior year 4-1.

Playing big minutes was something Holmes became accustomed to that season, as he became one of the national minutes leaders at 38.1 per contest and started all 33 games.

Crashing the glass

Holmes showed he could lead the team in multiple ways by dominating the paint for his career-high in rebounds.

Holmes led the Bonnies in points and rebounds in a 70-54 win against the Marquette Golden Eagles, going off for a 19 and 13 double-double in the Shriners Children’s Charleston Classic tournament.

Holmes made just six field goals in the game, but his persistence on the glass and ability to get to the free throw line saw him fill up the scoring column, leading his team to the win.

The win put the Bonnies to a 5-0 start to the season, building early momentum in Homes’ junior year.


Want to see Jaren in action?

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Image credit: Iowa State Cyclones