Holt Fills Huge Void at ISU

Cyclone head coach Larry Eustachy's driving habits have been well publicized in recent years, and they are now starting to score him some points with recruits.

Eustachy got a commitment earlier in the week from Winchenden (Mass.) point guard Curtis Stinson after a trip to the East Coast, then picked up another pledge from Tacoma (Wash.) Community College swingman Justin Holt, who was impressed with the ISU coach's drive to the Great Northwest.

The additions of Holt, Stinson and DMACC (Boone) guard Imari Sawyer give the Cyclones three commitments for the signing class of 2002-03.

Holt, who took a visit to Ames last weekend and watched the ISU-Nebraska football game, felt his relationship with Eustachy was one of the main factors in his making a commitment.

"I went down there last weekend and had a great time," said Holt, who averaged 22.3 points, nearly 10 rebounds and three steals per game. "No matter what school it is, I really have to feel like I'm comfortable with the coaches and can talk to them about more stuff than just basketball.

"I believe in Coach Eustachy and he believes in me as a player. I'm the type of person that when I believe in the coach and his system, I go with that. That's really what it was based on. I also believe in the Iowa State program, players and what we can do."

In need of a swingman in the future, ISU has gotten that coveted player in Holt. Tacoma Community College coach Carl Howell, who has watched Holt develop through the years, feels that his star player has become even more versatile in the past year.

"He's an athletic, big kid that can do a lot of different things," said Howell. "The one area that I think he's really improved in through the course of his senior year through now is his 3-point shooting. He has become a much better shooter and is a legitimate 3-point threat now.

"He's also a very good ball-handler for a bigger kid. He can really handle the ball. I can't remember too many high school kids being better offensive rebounders than he was. He needs to rebound defensively harder all the time. But he can guard a variety of positions."

After leading Tacoma Lincoln to back-to-back state championships, Holt, Mr. Basketball in the state of Washington, originally signed with Oregon State out of high school. However, when the OSU went through a coaching change prior to the start of classes this fall, Holt didn't enroll and instead opted to attend junior college for one year.

"(The coaching change) was a big reason along with some others," he said. "I committed after my junior year in August. Oregon State recruited me really hard and I was really comfortable with the coaching staff. That's what it's about. I liked the sense of family and that's what I like about Iowa State. Coach Eustachy really likes his players. I can tell that he's going to be there for me."

Eustachy, a long-time friend of Howell's, was one of the first coaches in on Holt for the second wave of recruiting that started almost before he started attending classes at Tacoma.

"His high school coach, Tim Kelly, is a very dear friend of mine," Howell said. "Tim and I sat down with him to see what his thoughts were and where he was interested in going. I called some people on Justin that I trust and think are real good coaches and sent some tapes out. They all responded, but Iowa State and Larry just jumped on him. Larry loved him on the tapes.

"Larry drove out here right away and met with the kid. They took him on a visit and Coach Barnes was out here. I have talked to Larry a couple of times every other month for the last 10 years. I told him that I thought this kid fit how they play and that he really fit Larry's personality."

It appears that the Cyclones were very much ahead of the eight ball for Holt. According to Howell, Tennessee, Marquette, Cal, Oregon, Pitt, Minnesota, Penn State, New Mexico, Wyoming, Oklahoma and Iowa have all tried to get heavily involved with Holt, some even trying to do so in the past week.

Having won back to back state championships in high school, Holt will head to a Tacoma team that is coming off of a conference title of its own. Howell said ISU will be getting a player with a lot of winning experience.

"He won two state championships in high school and we won the community college championship up here last year and have been very successful," Howell said. "He's coming out of two programs before getting to Iowa State that have really been successful. Winning is really important and Larry is getting a kid that knows how to win."

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