In today’s age of college basketball, it’s very seldom that you see a player refrain from jetting to the NBA at the first opportunity they get, and this becomes even truer with guys who are four and five star recruits coming out of high school. The Texas Longhorns got this rare exception in Jonathan Holmes. Four seasons, 127 games and 1,166 points later, the memorable career Holmes put together as a Longhorn has finally drawn to a close.
Thank you to everyone who made this 4 years possible I am truly sorry it ended this way I will never forget or
— Jonathan Holmes (@J_Holmes10) March 21, 2015
Holmes came to Texas as the No. 62 overall high school prospect in the ESPN 100 rankings in 2011, along with Myck Kabongo, Sheldon McClellan and Julien Lewis to comprise a solid recruiting class with four guys ranked in the top 76 in their class. But Holmes stood out from the rest in this class, as he would prove to be the last one of the bunch standing. After a disappointing Longhorns’ season during his sophomore year led to Texas missing the NCAA Tournament for the first and only time in Rick Barnes’ then 15-year tenure at the helm. A mixture of poor results that stemmed from a lack of team chemistry and selfish ambitions led to Kabongo jetting to the NBA – and failing to make an NBA team’s regular season roster since – while McClellan transferred to Miami and Lewis headed to Fresno State.
Holmes stuck around, despite Texas seeming to be on a downhill slide. Instead of getting out with the rest of the class he entered Austin with, Holmes continued to buy into Barnes’ "team first" style that was built on hard work and constant effort on the defensive end. Holmes patience and humble attitude on the hardwood would soon pay off.
As a junior, Holmes would emerge as the Longhorns’ leader on and off the court. He became the guy the younger players – which was every other key contributor – looked to and relied upon in times when Texas was in desperate need of a bucket or the game was on the line.
The result became Holmes standing as the Longhorns’ scorer at 12.8 per night and the team’s second leading rebounder with 7.2 per. He also managed to shoot the second highest percentage from the field on the Longhorns at .505. But his impact as a junior was so much greater than simply leading the team in scoring and snagging boards at a solid rate; Holmes became the veteran on a team that made some serious noise in the Big 12 and made it to the third round of the NCAA Tournament en route to 24 wins on the season.
In preparation for his senior year, Holmes dropped some weight in order to make the transition to play small forward in preparation of the arrival of the highly touted freshman Myles Turner, which speaks volumes to the character and selfless personality Holmes has presented in his four years on campus. As well all know, his senior season was more of a rollercoaster ride than a going away party. Holmes found success through the first 21 games of the season, averaging 12 points and 6.6 boards.
But the second portion of the season was one of struggles and frustrations that seemingly stemmed from a concussion suffered against Oklahoma State. Upon his return after a two-game absence, Holmes regressed to a mere 5.7 points and 5.1 points as Texas closed out a disappointing Big 12 regular season.
But in typical Holmes fashion, in a Big 12 tournament matchup against Iowa State and a second round NCAA Tournament loss to Butler, Holmes came out swinging and willed everything out of himself that he could to extend his career as a Longhorn just a bit longer. In his final two games at Texas – which were unfortunately both losses – Holmes led the Horns’ in scoring with a combined 30 points, as well as 14 boards and four shot rejections. We couldn’t have expected anything less from Holmes, who made his name at Texas by fighting through tough times and leaving everything he had on the floor.
I think I speak for every Longhorns fan when I say thank you for your tremendous contributions, passion and four great years in burnt orange and good luck in what ever your time at Texas leads you to next.