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Tra Holder continues dominant play for Sun Devils Basketball in Los Angeles

A return to LA is a chance to impress for the junior guard

ASU junior guard Tra Holder (0) runs the offense during the first half of a game versus the Cal Poly Mustangs in Wells Fargo Arena in Tempe, Arizona on Sunday, Nov. 13, 2016.
ASU junior guard Tra Holder (0) runs the offense during the first half of a game versus the Cal Poly Mustangs in Wells Fargo Arena in Tempe, Arizona on Sunday, Nov. 13, 2016.

LOS ANGELES — ASU men's basketball junior guard Tra Holder walked out of the visitor's locker room at Pauley Pavilion and headed straight to the stands. 

After notching 22 points on 8-16 shooting in a 102-80 loss to No. 3 UCLA Thursday, he greeted the horde of fans awaiting him near the entrance to the visitor's locker room. His mother, Charee Rogers, said that about 30 people, including family members and friends, were at Pauley Pavilion to see Holder's return.

"It's very exciting for all of us, his family and friends out here on the west coast," Rogers said.

Not only were Holder's 22 points in the game the second highest on the team, but they put him over the 1,000 point mark for his career and placed him 36th in school history in scoring.

After a quick jaunt through his fans, Holder kept the moment in perspective for himself and his team.

"It was cool, but I didn't get the result I wanted," Holder said. "It's bittersweet, but I'm happy I get to see them after the game, at least."

This isn't the first time he's put up an impressive performance in the city that raised him. Over the span of three games in Los Angeles, Holder has scored 69 points on 25-46 shooting, with 11 assists and 10 rebounds. But the important number is ASU's record in those games: 0-3.

A rarity for ASU sports, Holder is the only Angeleno on the roster. He graduated from Brentwood School, which sits just over two miles away from the arena he lost in Thursday.

One person who could be happy about both results is Holder's high school coach, Ryan "Moose" Bailey, who played three years in Westwood for UCLA but was not initially recruited by the Bruins.

"It's an extra added chip on his shoulder," Bailey said. "Growing up, you're around those schools — USC, UCLA — and that's what gets pumping into you your whole life as an LA kid. And not getting recruited by those schools knowing you're capable of playing at an institution like that has to put a chip on your shoulder."

Bailey knows something about that, playing at Penn State his freshman year before transferring back home for his final few seasons of eligibility.

Amanda Kelson, Brentwood School's athletic director, knows a thing or two about moving east to Arizona. An ASU alumna herself, Kelson made her own pitch when she found out Holder's interest in becoming a Sun Devil.

"I talked to him about how much fun I had as a Sun Devil and told him everything he may have wanted to know about Phoenix and what a great environment it is out in Tempe," Kelson said.

But Holder had already made his decision.

"When Tra took a visit to Tempe for his unofficial, he told us that he wanted to be in Tempe," Rogers said.

Seeing her only child go so far away wasn't easy for Rogers, but she said she's made frequent trips east to see him play.

"I cried for two months," Rogers said. "I did. Literally every time I would go into a supermarket and I'd see a baby that looked similar to him, I would just cry."

But now her son is back home for the weekend, where he gets one last chance to earn a win in Los Angeles, as the Sun Devils take on USC at Galen Center Sunday at 6:30 p.m. MST.

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