Senior forward Jonathan Holmes needed to move from the four to the three. In simpler terms, he is moving positions from the power forward to the small forward because the addition of freshman forward Myles Turner created a logjam in the frontcourt.
From an individual perspective, the move would improve Holmes’ chances of playing at the next level — 6-foot-8 power forwards typically don’t make it in the NBA.
But, at 254 pounds, Holmes wasn’t in the right shape for the change.
“Coach said to lose weight if I was serious about moving out to the wing,” Holmes said. “On the inside, it’s a lot more physical. On wing, it’s a lot more agility.”
So, with that, Holmes began the shift.
He gave his Tiff’s Treats to junior center Cameron Ridley, stopped eating pizza and started working out more.
“It felt like prison,” Holmes said.
By the time fall practices started, Holmes had trimmed down to 232, shedding more than 20 pounds.
“He’s at the weight he needs to be if he wants to play some three,” junior forward Connor Lammert said.
But playing the position takes more than just having the right physical shape. Holmes has to be able to run with the other teams’ wings, and he needs to be able to defend the smaller, quicker guys.
“Whether or not he plays, there will be [results] if he’s able to defend on the wing,” head coach Rick Barnes said a few weeks ago.
All indications point to Holmes being the three to start the season.
“I work on it every day in practice,” Holmes said. “I feel comfortable playing the three the whole game.”
The change will do wonders for a talented Texas team that boasts a lofty No. 10 ranking. It makes the team more versatile and gives Barnes the option to go with a bigger lineup.
“Our zone is bigger than some NBA teams,” Holmes said of a lineup that could possibly include him being paired with the 6-foot-9 Ridley, the 6-foot-11 Turner and the 6-foot-9 Lammert.
Holmes’ switch encapsulates everything he stands for on the team. As the lone remaining member of the seven-man 2011 recruiting class, the quiet and reserved senior is the leader of a not-so-young-anymore Texas team.
“He is able to communicate better and lead more verbally than he has in the past,” assistant coach Chris Ogden said. “More importantly, what he says has a lot of meaning.”
He doesn’t just lead verbally — but also by action. He’s one of the hardest workers Barnes has ever coached, and it rubs off on the rest of the team.
“Jon’s work ethic is ridiculous,” junior guard Javan Felix said. “He’s always in the gym working, and he takes different steps to make himself better. He’s improving as a leader, and he’s talking more. Jon’s not the type to open his mouth up and say a lot, but he’s starting to learn how to do that.”
When asked about sophomore point guard Isaiah Taylor’s spot on the regional cover for Sports Illustrated, Barnes was happy for his floor general, but he couldn’t help but add, “I would have [liked to see] Jon Holmes on the cover for everything he stands for.”