Ben Howland has sent a lot of players into the NBA and he's going to do it this year too. Howland is going to send freshman Jrue Holiday to the Association, but not in the manner that he likely expected.
Howland had Kevin Love last season as a one-and-done freshman. Holiday could be looking for similar results, but he's taking an entirely different path. Love left school after leading the Bruins to a third consecutive Final Four appearance. Holiday might do it as a cheerleader.
Holiday spent the second-half of Saturday's loss to Washington State on the bench. And Howland told the Los Angeles Times that Holiday should get pretty comfortable as Malcolm Lee will likely see increased playing time. Howland even called Lee the team's best defensive wing right now.
Holiday has to be considered a major disappointment for the Bruins. He came to school saying all of the right things, but has rarely lived up to his potential. Especially on the defensive end.
There have been flashes. Holiday shutdown USC's Demar DeRozan in a recent contest, but those performances have seemed to be the exception. Not the rule. Now he finds himself looking at a decrease in playing time. In fact, he played only 16 minutes after watching Klay Thompson score at will in the first half of the Cougar's win. And that's the thing. Howland has loosened up the offense, but he certainly doesn't want to sacrifice defense. If you want to play on Howland's team, you have to be committed to the defensive end.
If fact, you might as what took so long?
Now you have to wonder if this will push Holiday to greater things, or if it will push him out the door. I certainly don't know the guy and can't tell you what he is thinking. But realize that if Holiday does go to the NBA, he will be paid to sit the bench and not play defense. That looks like a win-win.
But for his sake, and the Bruins, you hope that this lesson will resonate and he will start to play up to his potential. Because he's shown it before, just not often enough.