Jonathan Holton Hopes Last Year's NCAA Experience Leads to Longer Run in 2016

BROOKLYN, N.Y. -- Last year Jonathan Holton drank in the NCAA Tournament experience. This year, though there's a different feel.

 West Virginia's run to the Sweet 16 was enjoyable, and while the ending with a loss to Kentucky was bittersweet, Jonathan Holton knew that as a junior he still had another swing remaining.

But now as a senior, the forward realizes that WVU’s next loss will spell an end to his collegiate career. The Mountaineers aren’t a senior-laden team, as Holton, guard Jaysean Paige and walk-on Richard Romeo are the only West Virginia players in their final season of college eligibility. All the others will have opportunities at future March Madness, if they stick around and if WVU is good enough to qualify. But for Holton and his fellow seniors, this is it.

“Yeah, it’s a different feel now that I’m a senior,” said Holton prior to West Virginia’s practice on Thursday at the Barclays Center, which will be the site of the Mountaineers’ first round matchup with Stephen F. Austin Friday night. “Last year was the first time most of us had ever even played in the NCAA Tournament, so we just tried to get used to everything. But now, as a senior, I know that it’s over if we lose again.”

Holton has been a big part of WVU’s success this year. He’s improved in almost every statistical category from last season. After averaging 7.5 points and 5.9 rebounds per game in 20014-15, he’s up that to 8.9 points and 7.7 rebounds this year. About the only area were his numbers have diminished is steals. That is somewhat by design, though, as Holton has tried to do less reaching – and thus less fouling – than he did last year. His steal numbers are down from 2014-15 (41 to 31), but so are his fouls (118 to 78) and ultimately his disqualifications (seven to two). Staying on the floor and in the game has helped both he and the Mountaineers greatly.

And now, with his college career winding down, Holton’s goal is to stay on the floor for as many rounds of the NCAA Tournament as possible.

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