Holmes and Osunniyi: Transferring as a duo


Jacob Rice

Osun Osunniyi (left) and Jaren Holmes (right) at Iowa State’s media day on Oct. 12, 2022.

Andrew Harrington, Sports Editor

Many players spend four years playing for a school, compiling every basketball memory they make at the same institution. In this case, it was a pair of players who committed to play a fourth year as teammates. 

Tons of memories, a family-type bond and another year as roommates are all things that Jaren Holmes and Osun Osunniyi committed to as they transferred from St. Bonaventure to Iowa State after playing together for three years.

Leaving a team that had won the Atlantic 10 Tournament just over a year ago, there was no guarantee the two would match that success with another school. Things are different when players go along for this ride with someone that they consider a brother. The highs and lows have become more manageable for the two as they took on the new opportunity with a familiar face.

“I’ve been going through a lot of things, personally and family, and he’s been right there making sure I’m good,” Osunniyi said.

How did the road lead to Iowa State for Holmes and Osunniyi? Well, it all started with a decision from Holmes.

Holmes has always been a Cyclone fan, and he has looked up to fellow Michigan natives Monte Morris and Will Clyburn. Without them knowing it, the two players were major motivating factors in Holmes’ determination to be the next great Cyclone from Michigan.

Holmes was the first player to commit to joining the Cyclones from the transfer portal, and Osunniyi credited a big part of his decision to the chance of a reunion with Holmes.

Holmes acknowledged that he made his share of efforts to recruit Osunniyi but ultimately said that it was the best decision for each of them.

“I just felt as if this is the best place for me, and he thought this is the best place for him,” Holmes said.

The primary reason Osunniyi opted to return to college for one more season is to pursue his chance at making the NBA.

Transitioning to the Cyclones not only

Osun Osunniyi is pumped up during garbage time of Iowa State’s blowout win against McNeese on Dec. 11, 2022. (Tyler Coe)

put Osunniyi in more of a national spotlight but having another voice in his ear has helped him improve in areas with a different perspective.

“Our game has gotten a lot better, both of us doing things that we’ve not been asked to do before,” Osunniyi said.

Now the duo is at Iowa State, and there are many memories being made, even before the season started.

The two are in their second year as roommates, which has not only grown their bond but has created some fun memories between the two. Osunniyi discussed the time the two have been living together, saying that he can hear Holmes from across the house at times, and it makes him smile every time.

“I hear him downstairs when he’s laughing, playing the games,” Osunniyi said.

Osunniyi said the two could not have much closer of a relationship than they already have.

“[Holmes is] like a brother to me,” Osunniyi said. “Blood couldn’t make us closer.”

As for Osunniyi, Holmes said he is quiet at times but also is one of the funniest people he knows. Once Osunniyi gets on the court, though, he has one of the biggest personalities.

“He’s kind of a laid-back, chill kid, but he’s super funny and loves to smile and laugh,” Holmes said. “When it’s time for games, you can see a switch turn on. He kind of turns into game mode, and you can see him flex a lot.”

Fans have seen this personality from Osunniyi so far this season, and he has showcased these flexes and an occasional stare-down after a big block.

When the 2022-23 season kicked off for Iowa State, it was clear this connection would be an integral part of how the season would wind up for the Cyclones. The two hold each other to as high of a standard on the court as they do off the court, with both of them placing wins above all else.

Iowa State finished the non-conference slate with a 9-2 record, with Holmes and Osunniyi playing a big role in these wins. Holmes led the Cyclones in scoring with 13.8 points per game while averaging over three assists and rebounds per game.

Osunniyi has tallied 8.4 points per game and has also contributed with strong interior defense.

There was no doubt in either of these players’ minds they could play complementary roles, which has shown mightily in their time at Iowa State.