Joyner Holmes dribbled around a pair of defenders, pulled up for a 12-foot jumper, and nailed it.
And then she smiled.
Buckets and grins were in short supply for the Texas junior last season. She missed summer and fall camps and was suspended for the first 10 games of the year after committing a university violation.
The 6-3 forward has been on a mission to regain the form that helped her earn Big 12 Freshman of the Year honors two years ago. After Wednesday’s two-hour practice at Cooley Pavilion — the team’s final workout of the summer — she spoke about the upcoming season with passion and hope.
The Longhorns, who have welcomed a strong freshman class, completed six weeks of summer training by utilizing different lineups. Holmes will be part of an improved and deep group of front-court players when the season begins Nov. 8 with a home game against Duquesne.
“Having a full summer to work out is something I didn’t have in my first two years here,” she said. “It’s meant a lot to me to have this summer. I’ve shaved a few pounds. We’re all moving a little faster.”
Working with Texas strength and conditioning coach Zack Zillner, Holmes said she lost 13 pounds since the end of last season. She followed that by gaining eight pounds of muscle.
Karen Aston said Holmes is on pace to becoming a major contributor again. After averaging 12.1 points and 8.2 rebounds a game as a freshman, she dropped to 6.8 points and six rebounds as a sophomore.
“Joyner had a hard time getting comfortable last year,” the Longhorns coach said. “She was just thrown into conference play. You can’t get around when someone doesn’t get the reps. I’ve said many times there is a reason that we practice.”
Despite the loss to 6-7 freshman center Sedona Prince, who broke her right leg while playing for the United States in the FIBA Americas Under-18 Championship last Friday in Mexico City, the Longhorns will have a strong front line.
The most notable newcomer is Collier, ranked as the No. 2 high school prospect in the country last year by ESPN. White joked that Collier has adjusted quickly because she “threw a few elbows” in Wednesday’s practice.
Sug Sutton, who takes over for Brooke McCarty as the team’s starting point guard, has been the most vocal player in camp, Aston said. She will be joined in the backcourt by shooting guard Lashann Higgs, who vowed to become a leader during her senior year.
The most improved players in burnt orange are sophomores Destiny Littleton and Chasity Patterson. Aston said the progress they have shown this summer is “miraculous.”
Another newcomer who will make an impact is Danni Williams, who stunned onlookers when she made a 65-foot shot while warming up for practice. A graduate transfer from Texas A&M, the left-handed guard set a single-season Aggies record with 70 three-point baskets last year.
Aston was asked if she was reluctant to allow someone from A&M to play for Texas.
“She’s from New Mexico, so I’m not considering her an Aggie.”