By Bob Hertzel
For the Times West Virginian
Bob Huggins capped off an offseason addressing what he perceived as his biggest weakness, that being having a power forward who fits the Big 12 style of play, by signing Jonathon Holton out of Palm Beach State Community College in Florida, but at what price?
Holton carries some serious baggage from another life as a freshman power forward at Rhode Island, where he was dismissed from the team after he was arrested in March 2012 on two counts of video voyeurism after two female students at Rhode Island claimed he had secretly videotaped separate sexual encounters with them and posted them on Facebook.
The sexual acts were consensual; the videotaping and pasting of the acts were not.
There is a disposition hearing on the two felony counts of video voyeurism scheduled for May 29 in Washington County (R.I.) Superior Court and the matter must be brought to a conclusion before Holton will be allowed to join WVU. He also must earn his degree from Palm Beach Junior College over the summer before joining the Mountaineers.
An arrest for possession of stolen goods, which grew out of the voyeurism incident when the laptop that was confiscated turned up to be stolen from the Miami area, apparently has been settled.
Already there has been much public clamor over Huggins bringing in an athlete with an incident such as this in his background, much as there was when he came under heavy criticism for his players being in and out of trouble at Cincinnati and not earning degrees.
However, Holton has claimed through an attorney that it was someone other than him who posted the video online through his account and he has remained trouble free since the incident.
“He’s really, really a good kid and he had a great year with us, no problems whatsoever,” said Butch Estes, his coach at Palm Beach who has moved on to Barry University. “Many of these young kids, as they grow up, they face so many temptations, and his got a little out of character for him.
“He understood the steps he needed to take to get his life and career back on track, and he’s done a good job of moving forward.”
Estes believes that in Huggins, who has faced similar situations over the years and found success with them, Holton has the right coach.
“I think Coach Huggins is the perfect coach. As a JC coach you try to help kids overcome the obstacles they’ve had. That requires a lot of patience and sometimes compromise and afternoon meetings. (Holton) is at the point he needs a disciplined, no-nonsense coach. I think Coach Huggins is right for him. He had a track record for dealing with players like this.”
If Holton can put his life together, Estes believes he will be an exceptional player with a myriad skills, more of a Big 12 type power forward than Huggins had this past year.
“He’s 6-9, probably 230-235, and he’s an exceptional 3-point shooter,” Estes said. “He can go inside and can post up with adept skills either right or left handed ... and I mean skills. What’s more, he can take the ball off a rebound and bring it full court, although every once in a while it might end up in the bleachers.”
Perhaps what he does best, however, is rebound, Estes calling him an “exceptional” rebounder with a knack for where the ball is with a great vertical jump.
All of that, of course, is what Huggins has seen in him.
“Jonathan is a prototype Big 12 forward,” he said in a release announcing his signing. “He can really score it off the bounce, play with his back to the basket, stretch defenses to make 3-pointers, as well as being a terrific offensive rebounder. He should give us immediate help on the front line.”
Former WVU outside linebacker Terence Garvin has signed a rookie free agent contract with the Pittsburgh Steelers after performing well in this weekend’s rookie mini-camp ... Garvin joins offensive lineman Jeff Braun (Baltimore Ravens), fullback Shawne Alston (New Orleans Saints) and offensive guard Josh Jenkins (Seattle Seahawks) who have signed free agent deals while wide receivers Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey (St. Louis Rams) and quarterback Geno Smith (New York Jets) were drafted.
Email Bob Hertzel at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @bhertzel.