A lot of eyes have been on the Texas Men’s Basketball program since Butler eliminated the team in the first round of the NCAA Tournament on March 19. In the week following the end of a disappointing season, head coach Rick Barnes and his staff left the program, and Myles Turner, Big 12 freshman of the year, declared for the NBA Draft. Since these events, the focus has shifted onto the hiring of new head coach Shaka Smart. But not enough attention is being paid to another change in the Texas basketball program: the departure of senior Jonathan Holmes.
Holmes will be dearly missed as a new era of Longhorn basketball is born. The following is a letter thanking Holmes for an incredible four-year career at the University of Texas at Austin.
By Corey Tatel
Dear Mr. Holmes,
What a roller-coaster of a career you’ve had, and what a pleasure it has been for Longhorn fans to watch you evolve as both a player and a leader. It wasn’t always easy, and it wasn’t always pretty.To say that there have been ups and downs would be an understatement. You’ve been part of a team that shocked the world your junior year and part of two disappointing teams during your sophomore and senior seasons. Beyond the 1,166 points that place you 24th on Texas’ all-time leading scorers list. Beyond the three NCAA Tournament berths. The numbers are great, but the strength, leadership and character you’ve displayed since setting foot on the 40 Acres are what we would truly like to thank you for.
Thank you for your loyalty. Your dedication to the University of Texas and the basketball program never wavered no matter how bad things got. After playing making the tournament your freshman year, things were looking optimistic for your second season at Texas. But unfortunately things fell apart. A lack of team chemistry and execution led to a 16-18 finish, and the team became the only team in the Rick Barnes Era to miss the NCAA Tournament.
Immediately following that disaster of a season, most of the players you came to Texas with left. Myke Kabongo left for the NBA. Sheldon McClellan transferred to Miami. Julien Lewis transferred to Fresno State. But you decided to stay. The state of Texas Basketball looked darker than it ever had under Rick Barnes, but you remained loyal. You stayed even with the understanding that you may not be competing for championships in order to get the Texas program back on the map. As you tweeted when Rick Barnes was dismissed on March 28, “loyalty is in our blood.” You’ve certainly backed that statement throughout your career and Longhorn fans will be forever grateful for that loyalty.
Thank you for your leadership. Since you decided to return to Texas after your sophomore season, you have been the ultimate leader. You became the only veteran of a young, inexperienced group. You were selected as team captain your junior and senior seasons, and you were a captain in every sense of the word. You may not be the most vocal leader, but you lead by example. As Barnes said in 2014, “he leads by the way he goes about his business.”
Young players like Isaiah Taylor, Cam Ridley and Myles Turner looked up to you because of your work ethic. Under low expectations, you inspired them and led a group of players back to the tournament during your junior year. Without your leadership, it’s a very real possibility that the Texas Basketball program could have taken a turn for the worst after your sophomore season. Who knows what shape it’d be in now?
Thank you for always stepping up when it mattered most. Whenever the Horns needed a big shot at the end of a game, fans knew they could always count on you. You are as clutch as they come, Mr. Holmes, and you’ve provided us with two of the most memorable game-winners in years.
Thank you for the unforgettable corner shot against Kansas State on Jan. 21 of last season.
And then this encore performance against Uconn on Nov. 30 of this season.
Longhorn fans really never get tired of watching those.
Most of all, Mr. Holmes, thank you for staying true to the very end. Thank you for showing your heart and passion until that final buzzer sounded. We know that you aren’t happy with the results of this season. We know you struggled after you returned from your concussion this season, but we watched as you carried your team in the first half against Butler in the NCAA Tournament to keep the game close. We watched as you came awfully close to willing Texas into the second round. You should be proud of the way you represented yourself in that final game. We all know that you left everything you had on the court.
Thank you for an incredible four years and all you have done for the UT. Sure, we’ll miss Barnes and Turner next season, but many of us will likely miss you even more. You will be a hard man to replace. We wish you the best of luck at the next level. You’ll always have the burnt orange faithful behind you.
Texas Basketball fans everywhere