"I knew Jonathan back when he was in high school and when he went to Rhode Island, I saw him play after he committed and thought, 'Boy, did they get a steal. This kid is way better than Rhode Island,'" Estes said.
Estes said Holton's contacts reached out to Estes.
Palm Beach State is about an hour from where Holton was raised. Estes said he was impressed by the people surrounding Holton and reassured by their intentions.
"They really wanted to re-establish him," Estes said.
Estes said he told Holton and his people that Estes was mindful of Holton's past, but preferred to concentrate on the future, so long as Holton was committed to the same. That apparently worked because Estes said he later learned a lot of junior college coaches were using Holton's past as a way to intimidate him.
"He warmed up to the fact that some schools he was looking at made a big deal out of his past while we took the approach that, 'Hey, Jonathan you made a mistake, but that's behind you. This is an opportunity to go forward. We're not looking at the past. We're focused on the future,'" Estes said. "He appreciated that. There were other people who tried to make him feel bad about what happened. Other coaches gave him the, 'You better do what I say. This is your last chance.'"
Holton needed to complete some academic work so he could play for Estes. As Horton worked toward eligibility, Estes did his homework, too.
"We did all the background checks and I was assured all of the things from his past would be resolved," Estes said. "Talking extensively with the people in his background, I got nothing but good vibes about taking the chance to help him."
Holton started 22 of his 23 games for the Palm Beach State team that finished 29-3 and was ranked as high as No. 2. He averaged 17.5 points and 14.1 rebounds and shot 39.6 percent from 3-point range. Estes said the statistics are secondary to the larger point.
"We were awfully glad to get him, but it was a win-win for both of us," Estes said. "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."
Contact sportswriter Mike Casazza at mi...@dailymail.com or 304-319-1142. His blog is at blogs.dailymail.com/wvu.