Emmitt Holt: A Webster Warrior

Indiana's Emmitt Holt has come a long way since the season began. A look at his first season at IU.

By now, Emmitt Holt's story is a familiar one to Indiana fans.

If you've forgotten, here's a spark notes version: Holt signed late, arrived on campus only days before fall classes began, and was way behind the rest of the freshmen. He was the driver in the Nov. 1 accident involving teammate Devin Davis, though the accident was not his fault.

It wasn't the ideal start to a college basketball career. Weaker people would have run away, cut their losses, and moved on. Holt, after all, was supposed to be in prep school this year.

But Holt stayed, worked to move on from all that had happened on that horrible Halloween night, and kept his faith that Tom Crean and his staff would keep their promise and develop him into a true basketball player.

And now, more than four months after that accident, Holt stands as the latest example of Crean's player development, and what players can develop with the right mindset and an unrelenting work ethic. Indiana fans won't be quick to give Crean credit for Holt's development, but he deserves it.

I watched Indiana practice before the season. Crean was constantly on Holt because he was so far behind that he looked lost. He was constantly in the wrong spot.

"When he first came in, he was clueless," sophomore Stanford Robinson said. "He didn't know anything about where he needed to be. He was just standing on the court."

Now, though, Holt is more often in the right spot, and he's making a significant impact. Holt nearly doubled his career high with 12 rebounds in Friday night's Big Ten Tournament loss to Maryland, adding six points, three blocks and two steals in 25 minutes. Holt almost single handedly kept Indiana in the game and gave it a chance to win. With Hanner Mosquera-Perea out with injury, the Hoosiers needed Holt badly, and he delivered.

"He's definitely come a long way," junior guard Yogi Ferrell said. "I'm in him every day to go out and get every rebound. He knows it because I'm going to get on him. When he has that mindset that he's going to get every rebound, I feel like nobody can stop him."

Added Robinson: "That's not surprising at all. Emmitt is a student of the game. Emmitt's gonna be great one day. He loves to learn, he's constantly working on his craft. You see him and you wouldn't even think he's a freshman, you'd think he's a senior just the way he's stepping up and being a leader. I'm proud of him."

At the beginning of the season, the names of James Blackmon Jr. and Robert Johnson were the most important freshmen for a young Indiana team. Now, at the end of the year, Holt has become just as important as the other two, and that won't change anytime soon.

Not bad for a kid that should be in prep school.

"He's a monster. He just brings you whatever you need," Robinson said. "I'm glad we moved on from that incident. When it first happened, I thought he was going to be broken down for a minute. But he's come along. Nobody's mad at nobody. It was an accident. And he's just been building since then. He's a great guy. Emmitt's always working. I'm proud of him."

"I'm glad I'm at Indiana," Holt added. "This was the best path for me."

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