In January, West Virginia men’s basketball coach Bob Huggins announced that transfer student Jonathan Holton had his appeal for a waiver request denied by the NCAA, forcing him to sit out the entire 2013-14 season.
Holton previously played at Palm Beach State Community College, and will have two seasons of eligibility remaining, beginning at the start of next season.
The 6-foot-7, 215-pound three star recruit practiced with the team all year, but couldn’t touch the court when it actually counted.
“It was very tough,” Holton told The Bob Huggins Show over the weekend. “I got very mad, angry and I even cried a little bit.”
But Holton wasn’t alone. Teammate Elijah Macon was also denied permission to play by the NCAA this season, and the No. 56 recruit in the Class of 2013 has been granted permission to join Holton on the court next season.
“Devin (Williams) and Brandon (Watkins) will be sophomores next year so they’ll have more experience (in game situations),” Holton said of WVU’s frontcourt. “(Macon) and I will bring a lot of energy and enthusiasm to the team.”
His teammates already know what Holton is capable of. When his eligibility was still in limbo in the beginning of the year, they spoke about what kind of energy he brought to the practice court.
“He’s a great player. He’s active and has a motor like no player I’ve been around,” said WVU junior guard Juwan Staten. “He’s able to do a lot of things.”
But basketball was never the issue. Holton has struggled to bring the same energy and enthusiasm on the court to the classroom, and it’s shown in his grades. But after taking a season off, Holton has finally found a balance between academics and athletics that was missing during his stints at Rhode Island and Palm Beach Community College.
“You need (good) grades in order to play, and I kind of found that out the hard way,” Holton admitted. “The coaches and support system I have here are really important. They really help me out. I have to (attend) every class or I’m flipping a tire.”
At Palm Beach State, Holton averaged 17.5 points and 14.1 rebounds per game, while shooting nearly 40 percent from 3-point range. As a freshman at Rhode Island, he averaged 10.2 points and 8.1 rebounds, and was named to the Atlantic 10 All-Rookie team.
He’s expecting the same type of numbers next season. When asked what fans should expect when he suits up in the Gold and Blue, Holton had a simple response.
“A double-double,” he said. “I played mid-major, I played JUCO and now I’m at a high-major. It’s more competitive here and dealing with a more competitive coach, he stays on you and makes sure you’re doing the right things all the time. I can definitely guarantee myself a double-double.”
Over the weekend, Staten announced his intentions to return to WVU next season after briefly testing the NBA waters. A potential John Wooden Award candidate next season, Staten will be paired with almost a brand new front court in 2014.