MORGANTOWN, W.Va. - When word finally came from the NCAA Thursday regarding Jonathan Holton's eligibility at West Virginia, Bob Huggins had little choice but to look on the bright side.
"We look forward to Jonathan having two full seasons of eligibility remaining," the West Virginia coach said.
One of those won't be this season, however.
The school announced Thursday night that the NCAA had denied the school's appeal for an eligibility waiver on behalf of Holton. That closes the book on any chance Holton has to play this season.
Over the course of the last week, Huggins and other West Virginia officials expressed their optimism that Holton would be declared eligible. He was ineligible to start the season because he had not completed requirements for a two-year degree during his year spent at a junior college in Florida last year.
Holton apparently completed those requirements during the fall semester at West Virginia, but still needed the NCAA to grant him a waiver, which it did not do.
"I know Jonathan is disappointed by not being able to compete this season,'' Huggins said in a statement issued by the school Thursday night. "But he has had a terrific attitude in practice and will use this redshirt season to work on his game and become a better basketball player."
Holton is eligible for a redshirt season because college athletes have five years in which to complete four years of eligibility. Holton played as a true freshman at Rhode Island in 2011-12 and in junior college last season, so he still has three years to play two. The current season will count as his redshirt year.
Holton has been eligible to practice with the team since the start of the season and will continue to do so.
A 6-foot-7 forward from Miami, Holton averaged 10.2 points and 8.1 rebounds per game as a freshman at Rhode Island, earning a spot on the Atlantic 10 All-Rookie team. He started 26 of 31 games there, averaging 28.5 minutes per contest. Holton was fourth in the Atlantic 10 in rebounding and second in offensive rebounding. In conference games, he averaged 9.4 rebounds per contest, including a season-high 18 rebounds in a game at Fordham.
He was dismissed from the team and the school after that season, however, when he was arrested and charged with video voyeurism. That's when he went to junior college for a season.
Had Holton been ruled eligible, he would have been able to play in the final 16 games of the regular season and in any postseason games. The Mountaineers have already played 15 games.
Reach Dave Hickman at 304-348-1734 or dphickm...@aol.com or follow him at Twitter.com/dphickman1.