A broken ankle delayed Stephanie Holzer’s Vanderbilt debut. A dislocated knee cap cut her career short.
On Tuesday, Vanderbilt women’s basketball coach Melanie Balcomb announced Holzer has decided to forgo her senior season due to a series of leg injuries. Holzer, a 6-foot-4 center, averaged 11 points and 6.8 rebounds, and earned All-Southeastern Conference honors during her only two seasons at full strength.
“Although her time was limited due to injuries, Steph was one of the most dominating post players in the SEC,” Balcomb said. “We will miss her toughness, competitive spirit and desire to win. Those special intangibles will serve her well in her future endeavors.”
Holzer has had nine surgeries since the sixth grade. The most recent came last winter after she dislocated her knee when she was undercut while going up for a rebound in an exhibition game against Alabama-Huntsville on Nov. 3 — a week before the season opener.
Holzer arrived on campus in 2009 after being named a McDonald’s All-American during her senior season at Cardinal O’Hara High School in Springfield, Pa. She redshirted her freshman year after aggravating her ankle.
In her first season, 2010-11, she averaged 11.1 points and 6.0 rebounds and was named the SEC Sixth Woman of the Year. The next year she started 31 of 33 games. She averaged 11.0 points and 7.5 rebounds and led the team in rebounding.
She played in 61 games and shot 54.8 percent from the field (278-of-507), which would rank ninth in program history. But the minimum to qualify is 400 made field goals.
Holzer graduated in May with a human organizational development degree from Peabody College and will stay on campus to earn her master’s degree.
“I could not be more grateful for the experiences I’ve had and the relationships I’ve made over the past four years that have allowed me to grow into a better person,” she said. “Thank you to my family, teammates, practice players, coaches, friends, teachers and fans that have been a part of my career. Thank you to Vanderbilt for allowing me to compete at one of the most elite athletic and academic institutions in the country. It has been a crazy journey, but I am excited to move forward with my life and see what other opportunities lay ahead.”
In addition to Holzer, Balcomb also announced guard Maggie Morrison and center Clair Watkins plan to transfer to other colleges. Morrison missed the final 23 games of her freshman season in 2011-12 with a knee injury and played in just 13 last year, scoring two points and averaging just 4.8 minutes. Watkins averaged 1.5 points and 4.9 minutes in 14 games. The 6-foot-4 redshirt sophomore suffered a season-ending ACL injury in January.
The Commodores lose last year’s leading scorer and rebounder Tiffany Clarke to graduation along with guards Elan Brown and Gabby Smith. Rising sophomores Heather Bowe and Kendall Shaw will be looked to as the inside presences. Bowe averaged 6.2 points and 4.3 rebounds in 13 starts and was named to the SEC All-Freshman team. Shaw averaged 3.5 points and 2.0 rebounds in 23 games.