Indiana lands ‘hidden gem’ in Emmitt Holt

  • 08/21/2014 9:39 am in

When college coaches watched the Albany City Rocks in Nike’s Elite Youth Basketball League, Emmitt Holt wasn’t the first player who jumped out in the layup line.

He’s not flashy, he’s not as tall as some of his AAU teammates and coming from a small suburban high school near Rochester (N.Y.), wasn’t a household name in recruiting circles.

But if you examined a statsheet at the end of an EYBL contest, it’s hard to dispute Holt’s production.

Through three EYBL sessions, he led the league in shot blocking and his final numbers suggest he belongs at the highest level of college basketball: 11.6 points (60.2 FG%), 7.1 rebounds and 2.1 blocks per game.

“He was our most important player,” Jimmy Hart, the director of the Albany City Rocks, told Inside the Hall. “At the end of every game, if someone asked our guys who the MVP of the team was, everyone would vote for Emmitt.”

That type of endorsement stands out, especially when you consider that the City Rocks feature several guys who are already committed to high-major programs like 2015 forwards Tyler Lydon (Syracuse) and Elijah Burns (Notre Dame).

The original plan for Holt, who was a runner-up for the Mr. Basketball Award at Webster High School, was to complete a post-graduate year at Vermont Academy in order to expand his recruitment. The opportunity to play against the best competition in the New England Preparatory School Athletic Council (NEPSAC) was a major reason for choosing Vermont Academy.

But as July concluded and Indiana’s search for frontcourt help continued, assistant coach Chuck Martin inquired with Hart about the possibility of pursuing Holt as a 2014 prospect.

“It was not a well known fact that he had enough credits to graduate,” Hart explained. “He had some offers, but nothing he really liked.”

After Indiana got involved, things developed quickly.

Holt visited Indiana on Monday and by Wednesday morning, he committed to the Hoosiers before leaving campus.

Alex Popp, who is entering his first season as coach at Vermont Academy after serving as Director of Basketball Operations at Holy Cross, had planned on having Holt in his frontcourt, but called IU’s move to get involved late “smart.”

“He was a hidden gem,” Popp explained. “He didn’t play on the EYBL with City Rocks until after he graduated high school. If he would have been at Vermont (Academy), he certainly would have had some other BCS schools involved, there’s no doubt.

“Chuck Martin did a great job recruiting him. He killed it. They’re doing a great job of recruiting this region, which isn’t easy. Coming from the midwest to get guys like Noah Vonleh and now Emmitt Holt, trust me, it’s not easy for schools in the midwest to come into the northeast and get players.”

Given the loss of Vonleh to the NBA, Indiana’s need for additional frontcourt help beyond Hanner Mosquera-Perea and Devin Davis is well documented.

According to Popp, Holt has a chance to help immediately on the boards.

“His wingspan is 7-foot-2 or 7-foot-3,” he said. “The other part of it (with the rebounding) is that he wants it more than other guys. He wins the 50-50 balls, he rebounds out of his area.”

Hart believes that Holt is unique for a frontcourt player because of the intangibles he brings.

“A lot of qualities you’d want in your point guard, he gives in your front court,” Hart said. “He talks, makes others better. You usually associate that to a point guard. Most bigs don’t make perimeter guys better.”

Holt’s height, which has been listed at anywhere from 6-foot-6 to 6-foot-9, is actually 6-foot-7 according to Hart, who said he’s the same size as current IU sophomore Devin Davis.

While 6-foot-7 may be viewed as undersized by some, Holt’s wingspan is the more important number to take into account.

“I think he’s still growing, he’s got a baby face,” Popp said. “They’re getting a guy of high character with intangibles that are off the charts. They’re getting an elite level rebounder and a guy that just plays with tremendous efficiency.”

(Photo credit: Jon Lopez/Nike Basketball)

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  • Bryce Kepner

    My bad, I thought you were part of the group around here that seems to think Crean is forcing some of the guys out. All I’m saying is players are free to decide to leave for the NBA or another school, so why shouldn’t the university be allowed to seek to have the best players on the team year by year. If here soon two great 2015 recruits decide they want to attend IU, and they are better than two of our players, I’m all for it

  • mark

    Holt sounds more and more like (former Iowa Hawkeye/now NBA) Reggie Evans. Obviously he’s only a freshman now, so we’ll have to be patient, but if he does end up being that type of guy — a rebound-per-minute type — then this was an absolutely great pick up.

  • mark

    Right there you have it. Bo Ryan is the best B10 coach, maybe best NCAA coach now. Wisconsin is the new IU. How many 5-star recruits does he get? But he gets smart kids, skilled kids, he teaches them, they play team ball and great D and they hang around for 4 years. I am always so impressed by Ryan …. wish we could’ve gotten him

  • mark

    But don’t forget, the kids he’s getting are 4-year kids who will develop. A lot of times it’s better to have mostly those, surrounding maybe 1 or 2 elite talents (like Yogi, Troy, JBJ) than to have 5-6 5-stars. In a few years guys like Priller, Hoetzel and Holt may be abusing the 18-20 year olds of other schools. Look at some of the really good teams, look at Connecticut last year — they only had a couple elite talents, I think, and then a bunch of solid, smart, hustling role players.

  • Mike Blair

    Great move Crean..this season could be special.

  • b_side

    Didn’t Vonleh lead the league in rebounding with just a hair under 10 boards a game? You expect the same out of Hanner? Sheesh.

  • ForeverIU

    The port variety after a hearty southern meal!

  • ForeverIU

    As in telling us our fortunes, what to expect and what’s to come … fortune-telling.

  • CreamandCrimson

    I agreed with his overall point…not sure what you are saying “no” to. I totally agree that height isn’t nearly everything when it comes to rebounding. It’s also been proven that rebounding is the most translatable skill from high school to college to the pros and I think Holt can help us right away in that department.

    I also made a point that I don’t think Kenneth Faried is the “best rebounder on the planet” when every meaningful statistic says otherwise.

  • Oops, guess the Blackmon fooled me when I glanced it…lol.. So used to having him shown as JBJ.. My bad. Gosh my way of thinking RJ should’ve probably been a 5 Star as well.. Just wasn’t probably popular enough with the writers.

  • dontfiretomcrean

    I would partially disagree with that. Guys can certainly get quicker. With the weight program these guys are on I would expect Priller (and others) to gain at least some increase in quickness (however marginal that increase may be). Quickness is also a matter of defensive technique, which CAN be taught. And a lack of speed can also be negated by teaching optimal positioning in any given situation. If you can anticipate the opponents move you can get there first. That also can be taught. Even if he’s slow as crap the kid is 6’10” and can shoot the 3 ball. Just my 2 cents.

  • plane1972

    I agree. The problem as seen by CTC’s critics is the number of McDs All-Americans we are getting. IU is still lagging behind the UKs, Kansases and Dukes, who should not be viewed as the norms. I don’t think we have to keep up with them as much as ensure we have our 1-2 blue-chip talents at all times who are surrounded by talented 2-4 year players. If CTC can do that, IU should be in a good place.

  • plane1972

    Contrary to popular belief, Knight did not make chicken salad from chicken s#!t. The argument that he won with inferior talent is completely false.

    Every team Knight won a title with had a load of blue-chip talent. ’76 was insanely loaded, ’81 had Tolbert (McD AA) and Isiah (greatest Hoosier ever) with complementary pieces that could overtake their superstars on any given night, and the ’87 team began with the best players from the states of Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin and Ohio (Alford, Simmons/Thomas, Meier and Calloway) and had Smart, Garrett and a cast of great role players. Knight did not suffer from a lack of riches on the talent front.

  • plane1972

    The notion that any team has a roster full of 5-star talent is a relatively recent phenomenon. Kentucky, Kansas and Duke are just making it seem like it’s been around forever.

  • PDXHoosier

    I agree. he is just tall and slooooow and that’s the way it is

  • Ardeare

    That’s what we want to hear. I thought CTC was gonna start 5 guards all season long.

  • Ardeare

    True, and he still couldn’t qualify for the NIT last year. It’s time for change as Assembly Hall.

  • Ardeare

    Every starting 5 player on all of Knight’s 3 championship teams went pro. No talent, no championships.

  • marcusgresham

    Ever look at some of UCLA’s rosters when Wooden was coach? UNC was generally loaded when Dean Smith was there.

  • marcusgresham

    I was at the IU/UK game in Freedom Hall when Nover had his career high 29 points…as did Cheaney, Jamal Mashburn, and Travis Ford. Sadly a Bailey 30-footer at the buzzer missed & UK won by 3.

  • marcusgresham

    The “no” was kind of a conversational agreement with him. Looking back at it I see the confusion.

  • SeeingRed

    As long as one and done is allowed and encouraged, it is going to be a struggle because IU will never be a one of the “factory farms” for those kids. IU’s best chance to return to prominence is if reforms are put in place that make college basketball look more like it used to. Mandate a two year commitment to college, or head straight to the league. Then, more of the 5s will go for the immediate payday and the playing field in college will even out. That swings things back in the favor of schools like IU. The star power and overall level of play will go down, but the college game would be better off as a whole, IMO.

    Seems unlikely but that’s what we need. I imagine that the NCAA is too money hungry to forgo a bunch of one year wonders, and the NBA has little interest in having to pay huge dollars to unproven 18 year olds who haven’t had a year in the farm system.

  • HoosierGrampy

    Toad Hollow Vineyards in Healdsburg, CA, markets some really good products as well.

  • marcusgresham

    With arms that long just get this kid hopped up on some Mountain Dew and he’ll come at you like a spider monkey!

  • HoosierGrampy

    AJ Hammonds, Adam Woodbury, and Tyler Griffey did not exactly bring “Usain Bolt” speed to the table, but each found a niche’ in which he could be effective.

  • HoosierGrampy

    Same with Steve Alford and Jordan Hulls.

  • HoosierGrampy

    You may have forgotten how effective Paul Silas, Dave Cowens, Oscar Robertson and John Havlicek were as offensive/defensive rebounders back in the day…

  • Bryce Kepner

    Tons of players go pro, that doesn’t mean they stick around or have decent careers. Besides Isiah Thomas, no player from Knights teams had a real significant /impactful NBA career

  • Bryce Kepner

    But if Bo Ryan would’ve been our coach for the same amount of time he’s been at Wisconsin, people around here would’ve wanted him booted a long time ago because besides going to the National Championship game last year, he’s never really had much tournament success

  • Bryce Kepner

    We definitely got a 5 star this year. His name is James Blackmon Jr if you live under a rock and are unaware of him hahaha

  • plane1972

    Old UCLA and UNC teams were loaded, but I don’t think they had two different sets of guys who could be interchangeable as a starting lineup. Kentucky literally has 10 starting-caliber players.

  • IUfanPurduePhD

    My wife is due in November, so he’d be around 6-7 months old by the end of the transfer season. You’ll have to drive up to Michigan to pick him up. We will provide clothes and one month’s worth of diapers, but the crib and everything else is up to you.