Sleeping Sponge

17 Oct

By Justin Young
National Hoops Report

Admit it; you don’t know who Jonathan Holton is.

That’s okay. Few outside of South Florida and the University of Rhode Island do.

The 6-foot-9, 220-pound Miami native goes by Sponge. No really, he does. He’s a late-blooming big man that knows how to find the highlight reel.

In a good piece from Bill Reynolds of the Providence Journal teaches us that:

“In the eighth grade, he was a kid living in the West Coconut Grove section of Miami, living with his mother, his aunt, four brothers and three sisters in a one-bedroom apartment. It was a neighborhood where violence was as much a part of the landscape as the afternoon thunderstorms, a neighborhood full of fights, guns and dysfunction, a neighborhood where the American Dream threw up its hands and surrendered a long time ago.”

Holton was raised in hoops by a young youth basketball coach named Darren Weissman, who tried to convince the raw big man that a better life awaited him.

On one occasion Weissman went to pick Holton up for practice and found a surprise waiting for him.

“…His right arm was in a cast because he said he’d ‘broken [his] knuckles on someone’s face.’ So he played with his left hand,” Weissman said.

As we read in Reynolds’ story, Holton was a late bloomer in high school. He was an all-state player and led Florida high school players in rebounding (18 per game) and blocked shots. Temple was the other contender for his signature. Illinois, North Carolina State and Minnesota also sniffed around.

Reynolds asks: So why URI?

Lamar Odom is his favorite player, another 6-foot-9 guy who plays with versatility, and Rams coach Jim Baron sold him on the premise that he could replace Delroy James and conceivably get a chance to play right away. So Kingston it was, even though he’s never seen snow.

There aren’t many that profess Holton to be an all-league player, or even a major contributor for the Rams this season. Those that follow South Florida preps have whispered that Holton could be a star, in time.

He has the ingredients to late-bloomer star. We see them all the time. Larry Sanders, another Floridian big man, went to the mid-major level and starred at Virginia Commonwealth before shaking hands with David Stern.

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