MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Jonathan Holton’s junior college coach said the West Virginia signee was a model citizen last season as he sought to salvage his college career after stepping into legal trouble as a freshman at the University of Rhode Island.
“He has really done well here behavior-wise, been a great kid,” said Butch Estes, who coached Holton at Palm Beach (Fla.) State Community College. “I’m real pleased with his progress.
“When he came to us last year, he understood the steps he needed to take to get his life, as well as his basketball career, back on track.”
Estes, who recently accepted a job as head coach at Division II Barry University, told MetroNews that WVU “really got a good one” in Holton. The 6-foot-9 forward signed his grant-in-aid Monday, according to a university release.
However, Holton must clear pending legal hurdles this month before he’ll be allowed to join the Mountaineers program. His disposition hearing on two felony counts of video voyeurism is scheduled for May 29 in Washington County Superior Court in Rhode Island.
The two counts of video voyeurism stem from March 2012 when two female students at Rhode Island alleged Holton captured video of separate sexual encounters with them without their consent — videos they learn about when the images were posted on Facebook.
That same week, Holton also was arrested again on a stolen goods charge after URI police recovered a stolen laptop at the player’s campus residence.
Those two arrests led to his suspension from the Rhode Island basketball team and subsequently his departure from the university. Holton transferred to Palm Beach State, about an hour from where he grew up in the Miami area.
It was there that Estes saw Holton enjoy “a phenomenal year” of basketball free from disciplinary incidents.
“He is a big-time player,” Estes said. “He can shoot the 3. He can post up. He can bring the ball up on the break. He’s extremely versatile. He’s very gifted and really has a very high IQ for the game.
“If he gets himself mentally right and continues to mature as a young man, I think he’s a pro prospect.”
Estes said Holton is on pace to graduate this summer.
After Holton signed scholarship papers Monday, WVU coach Bob Huggins issued the following statement:
“Jonathan is a prototype Big 12 forward. 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.”