LUBBOCK, Texas - West Virginia fans might see a new face on the court the next time they see the Mountaineers at the Coliseum.
The team is hopeful, though realistically cautious, that the NCAA might deem junior college transfer Jonathan Holton eligible this week, and perhaps as early as today. WVU plays at Texas Tech at 7 p.m., which means it's unlikely an eligible Holton, who led all junior college players in rebounding last season, could make it here in time for the game.
It's also possible the NCAA could rule on Holton later this week, if at all.
An eligible Holton, who's been allowed to practice with the team all season, could play in Saturday's home game against No. 6 Oklahoma State. WVU was hoping the NCAA would declare Holton eligible Friday before the team's trip to Dallas for Saturday's win against TCU, and Holton was said to have prepared to travel with the team for the first time.
"I think he adds a lot to this team," point guard Juwan Staten said. "For one, I think he'll lift the spirits of the team because we know how badly he wants to play. We want him to play bad, too."
Holton, who made the Atlantic 10's all-rookie team in 2012 at Rhode Island averaging 10.2 points and 8.1 rebounds, was expelled from school there after an arrest for two felony charges of video voyeurism. He initially landed at Florida's Palm Beach State.
Holton's attorney disputed the charges and claimed an "unauthorized third party accessed Mr. Holton's account without his consent and maliciously sent these images under his name." Holton later pleaded no contest to one charge and saw the second dropped.
The 6-foot-7, 215-pound Holton averaged 17.5 points and 14.1 rebounds per game at Palm Beach State. He shot 39.6 percent from 3-point range for a team that was ranked as high as No. 2 in the NJCAA and finished with a 29-3 record.
"The guy's a monster rebounder on the boards," guard Eron Harris said. "He scores around the basket, too. It looks ugly, but it goes in every time. And he's a shooter."
Contact sportswriter Mike Casazza at mi...@dailymailwv.com or 304-319-1142. His blog is at blogs.charlestondailymail.com/wvu.