While wins have been scarce for South Florida throughout the 2014-15 season, the progression of their young core of freshman players has been an aspect to take note of. Ruben Guerrero in various games has shown glimpses of becoming a dominant center for the Bulls in the upcoming years through utilizing his length and size to block shots and harness rebounds. Bo Zeigler’s athletic ability has turned him into a dynamic coast to coast forward that will only get better in the future. But making the biggest jump has been Troy Holston Jr., who earned the honor of being named AAC Rookie of the Week for the final week of regular season play.
As a result of the absence of team leading scorer Corey Allen Jr., Holston has emerged as USF’s primary source of offense in the final stages of USF’s regular season. The Queens, NY native has scored in double digits in seven of the last eight Bulls contests, including a career high 22 points at Houston on March 1st. Holston’s three point shooting prowess has also skyrocketed, as the sharpshooter has shot 64% from beyond the arc over the past three games, including a clutch long range shot against Tulane that cut the deficit to two points in the final ten seconds of the game. His 19 point, 10 rebound effort against UCF and 21 point, 4 rebound performance vs Tulane notched him the unanimous honor for the conference’s best freshmen for the week.
However, the season started off a big shaky for Holston as he was coming off the bench and adjusting to the pace of the college game. An early season ankle injury left him sidelined for three contests and upon return, rattled his confidence on the floor for the next several weeks. “I was initially very tentative with my ankle injury,” Holston said when talking to USF Nation. “I had to adjust to the slump that I was in and keep working on my game. I spent a lot of time in the gym with Coach Strickland just working on getting better. Now, I feel more comfortable and confident as well.” That progression is something that Coach Orlando Antigua has taken note of as well. “Troy’s defense and rebounding has drastically improved. His confidence has definitely gone way up over the course of the season. The game has slowed down for him where he’s not pressing as much. He doesn’t have that on-court anxiety anymore you see from freshmen. He just goes out there now and makes plays.”
Whether or not USF can upset Uconn in their first round AAC Tournament matchup on Thursday, optimism and hope for the future is a plenty around the program, expressed by one of the key components of their future success in Holston himself. “I really like our future over the next few seasons. It’s very bright. You can definitely see growth in all of these guys.”