Pitino’s Former PF Excelling at West Virginia

Pitino’s Former PF Excelling at West Virginia

Upon Minnesota’s hiring of Richard Pitino we wrote COULD RICHARD PITINO BRING A STAR FORWARD TO MINNESOTA? (April 3, 2013). The article discussed FIU-bound Jonathan Holton and his JUCO teammate Kevin Thomas, noting that, “[p]ower forward is a position of need for next year’s team and Pitino could potentially deliver in a major way.”

Late Night Hoops visited a Palm Beach State (Fla.) practice several months prior to the article and believed either player could be provide a significant boost to the roster.

As things turned out, Holton wound up at West Virginia and Kevin Thomas at Troy. Let’s take a look at how they are performing this season.

Jonathan Holton
Holton has helped West Virginia to a 13-1 start and national ranking. Selected statistics:

Ortg %Poss eFG% OR% DR% Blk% Stl%
119.0 21.5% 54.5% 12.5% 22.2% 7.2% 4.1%

Despite shooting just 19.4% (6/31) from 3-point range where he takes more than a quarter of his shots from,  Holton’s eFG% is 54.5%. His 2FG% of 64.2% is even better than Minnesota’s Mo Walker impressive numbers this year.

His OR% would put him at #8 in the Big Ten and behind only the too-seldom used Elliott Eliason among Gophers. Holton’s impressive work on the defensive boards are better than any Gopher and 227% of starting forward Joey King’s.

The 6’7″ Mountaineer also has block and steal rates that place him in the nation’s top 100 of all D-I players who have played at least 40% of their teams available minutes (per KenPom.com).

His turnover rate is a respectable 14.9% (Joey King is at 18.6%, Mo Walker 22.0%).

No doubt he would have dominated at FIU for Richard Pitino, but he also would have been a major impact addition for this Minnesota team.

Kevin Thomas
Like Holton, Thomas has been exceptionally good on 2-point conversions (67.9%!). Although his turnover rate has been high, he has come through on the offensive boards (14.7% – top 40 in the nation).

Thomas has posted a solid DR% of 16.2% to go along with a block rate of 2.8% and steal rate of 2.9% while committing only 3.1 fouls per 40 minutes.

Looking ahead to next year…
The Gophers could use ready-to-play additions at center and power forward next season. There are options out there in the JUCO ranks and among uncommitted seniors.

In addition the transfer market may present some possibilities for an immediately eligible player.

Regardless, former Pitino-commit Johnathan Holton will likely be a better player in 2015-16 than anyone the Gophers may add inside.

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