Jonathan Holton officially added to West Virginia roster

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While freshman Elijah Macon has been cleared to enroll at West Virginia, his status for the upcoming season is still unknown. With that being the case, the addition of Palm Beach State (Fla.) forward Jonathan Holton to the program becomes that much more important for head coach Bob Huggins.

Holton was one of the best freshmen in the Atlantic 10 during his one season at Rhode Island, but legal problems ultimately led to his being dismissed from the school. From there Holton went to junior college in his home state, averaging 17.5 points and 14.1 rebounds per game for a Palm Beach State team that finished the 2012-13 season with a 29-3 record.

But there was work to be done in the classroom, and those legal issues needed to be taken care of as well before West Virginia would allow Holton to join the program. With those areas addressed, the 6-7 Holton is officially on the West Virginia roster. To say the least this is good news for the Mountaineers, whose most experienced front court player entering the 2013-14 season is junior Kevin Noreen.

Noreen averaged 3.0 points and 4.4 rebounds per game last season, and West Virginia struggled despite having the experienced Deniz Kilicli and La Salle transfer Aaric Murray in their front court rotation. With some new faces, including Macon (hopefully) and power forward Devin Williams, the hope is that West Virginia will enjoy better chemistry in their second season as a Big 12 member.

Holton has the talent to figure prominently into the equation, and if he can have an impact similar to what he was able to do in his one season at Palm Beach State look for West Virginia to be an improved basketball team. But that will only be possible if Holton can make strides off the court as well.

“We were awfully glad to get him, but it was a win-win for both of us,” Palm Beach State head coach Butch Estes told Mike Casazza of the Charleston Daily Mail back in May. “We were able to have a great year as a team and he was able to have a great year as a player, but he grew as a person.

“Does he have room to grow some more? Yes, no question. But I think that today, going back to last July 1 or whenever we started this process, he’s become much more mature and a much better kid. I don’t know if he’s a better player – he was pretty good when he got there.”

Illinois’ injury woes continue as starting center needs knee surgery

George Niang,Abdel Nader,Mike Thorne, Jr.
AP Photo/Mark Wallheiser
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Illinois suffered another blow in what has already turned out to be a brutal season.

Mike Thorne is expected to miss the rest of the season after tearing his meniscus. He reportedly underwent surgery on Monday to repair the injury.

Thorne, a transfer from Charlotte, was starting at center for the Illini and doing a good job of it as well. He was averaging 13.4 points and 8.4 boards, although Illinois has started off the season 3-4.

The reason for that slow start has mainly been those injuries. Tracy Abrams is already out for the season after tearing his achilles, and the Illini training room looked like a M.A.S.H. unit. Kendrick Nunn just returned two games ago from surgery to repair a torn thumb ligament. LeRon Black is still getting back to speed after offseason knee surgery. Jaylon Tate is back after dislocating a finger. Jalen Coleman-Lands was slowed by a stress fracture.

John Groce entered this season on the hot seat, and dealing with all of these injuries certainly isn’t helping his cause.

NEW PODCAST: Recapping Feast Week

Kris Dunn
AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill
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We talk about a lot of stuff of the podcast today, mainly because a lot of stuff happened since we last spoke with you all.

For starters, we need to discuss the ‘realness’ of Syracuse and Xavier. Are they both truly top 15 teams, or do they just have top 15 resumes? We also dive into Chris Mack’s epic troll-job of Dayton at the Advocare Invitational final.

Other topics we touched on: Whether or not Scott is ever going to apologize to Wayne Selden, Wichita State’s tournament hopes, Texas A&M and whether we’d take Ben Simmons, Kris Dunn or Denzel Valentine today.

As always, you can subscribe to the podcast in iTunes right here. It’s the quickest way to get access on your cell phone or tablet.