Friar Basketball

On Emmitt Holt’s Return to Practice

Holt vs URI

Update: A report by CBS Sports’ Jon Rothstein that Emmitt Holt has been fully cleared to return to practice is untrue, as Ed Cooley told the Providence Journal’s Kevin McNamara. Cooley told McNamara that Holt is “not close to fully cleared” and added that it’s too early to tell if Holt will be back next season. 

From the first time Emmitt Holt stepped foot on the floor as a Friar he produced. After transferring to PC from Indian Hills CC in 2016, Holt paid immediate dividends in the wake of Ben Bentil’s early departure.

He scored in double figures in his first five games in black and white, including 22 in his debut against a good Vermont team, and 16 points and 10 rebounds coming 11 days later in a win over Memphis.

The last time we saw him, Holt was terrific against the enormous frontline of USC in the NCAA Tournament (18 points, 11 rebounds)

The Friars won 21 games without Holt this past season, as he missed what would have been his senior season at Providence after an abdominal issue was discovered weeks prior to the season opener.

The lasting memory of the 2017-18 campaign will the Friars’ Big East Tournament run, with seniors Kyron Cartwright and Rodney Bullock and emerging sophomore Alpha Diallo leading PC past Xavier in the semifinals and playing eventual national champion Villanova into overtime in the title game.

But there were long stretches of last season in which the Friars looked disengaged. November injuries to Diallo, Cartwright and Maliek White certainly didn’t help, but Ed Cooley and his players admitted the season turned when they started having difficult conversations about where this team was headed.

It was a team good enough to beat a pair of top 5 teams, yet inconsistent enough to play itself onto the bubble heading into the Big East Tournament.

As late as March, this group seemed to be struggling to find itself, closing the regular season 2-3 with their only wins coming against eight and ninth place Georgetown and St. John’s.

It’s not a leap to say Holt’s leadership was missed during large portions of last year. Kyron Cartwright and Ed Cooley were particularly emotional speaking about Holt when he returned to the team in January.

There was an energy and toughness about him that endeared him to Friar fans almost immediately.

CBS’s Jon Rotstein reported on Thursday that Holt has been cleared to practice, giving Providence fans the best news they’ll hear all spring.

Holt’s energy and leadership will be welcome next season, as Providence graduates Cartwright, Bullock, and Jalen Lindsey — three long-time starters. Beyond the intangibles, the Friars get a versatile, proven Big East big man.

In Holt’s lone season at PC he immediately produced with his back to the basket, and he eventually become more assertive in looking for his shot beyond the 3-point arc (as evidenced by his 3-6 shooting from deep in a road win over Creighton in mid February).

Now Cooley has options in the frontcourt. Holt spent much 2016-17 as an undersized 5. PC could go small with Holt at the 5 and Isaiah Jackson at the 4 for stretches. With the late season development of Nate Watson, the Friars could also have a pair of adept back-to-the-basket big men for the first time in seemingly forever. Junior-to-be Kalif Young spent much of his first two years in the starting lineup, and brings experience, while redshirt freshman Dajour Dickens is a 7 foot wild card with above average athleticism.

Ideally, Holt will bring a level of consistency to a team that will be breaking in four freshmen, while players like Diallo and point Makai Ashton-Langford adjust to bigger roles. In Holt’s last six games he went for 18-8-14-14-14-18 — the type of solid, consistent production that this group will need next season.

This is terrific news for the Friars.

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