The 2013 recruiting class is overloaded on talented wings. Guys like Andrew Wiggins, Jabari Parker, James Young and Wayne Selden. Because of that, a few players have kind of fallen in their shadow and not been talked about nearly as much.
One of those players is Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, the Arizona commit has not gotten nearly as much media attention as his pears but he should be a special talent. Hollis-Jefferson made his tours at all the big stops, he was a McDonald’s’ All-American, took part in the Jordan Classic and the Nike Hoop Summit. He did well at all those events but still did not generate nearly as much buzz as other players.
The Chester, PA native played his high school ball in his home town and did well enough to get a lot of attention from many different schools. Officially, seven schools extended him a scholarship offer because it was unclear where Hollis-Jefferson would decide to attend. Among those schools were Florida, Memphis and Syracuse. Ultimately, Hollis-Jefferson chose to go to Arizona to team up with another high profile recruit in power forward Aaron Gordon.
Here is a YouTube video of his high school highlights.
At the moment, Hollis-Jefferson’s best attributes are his body and his athleticism. He has great height and length, he stands 6”6 but has a wingspan of a seven footer. Along with that, Hollis-Jefferson is one of the best leapers and athletes in his class. Combining his long arms with his ability to take off with explosion off the court, he is a scary specimen when going to the rim and leaping to block a shot. On top of that, in the past year, Hollis-Jefferson has really worked hard to develop some muscles and there is a noticeable difference in his definition from last year to this year.
In transition, Hollis-Jefferson is a big threat. Not only is he fast, given some open floor he can find teammates with great passes to catch opponents off guard. His ability jump makes it easy for him to finish at the rim when attacking the defense with a numbers advantage. As a ball handler, Hollis-Jefferson more than holds his own on the fast break and gets to the spots he wants to go with relative ease. When he gets to the NCAA, the transition game should be the area where Hollis-Jefferson excels immediately, his combination of athleticism, unselfishness and speed make him practically impossible to stop on a consistent basis.
In the halfcourt, Hollis-Jefferson has a nice midrange jump shot. His elevation over defenders allows him an easier look at the rim for a better chance at a successful conversion. The other tool in his bag is his quick first step that he can use to blow by his defender on the perimeter. Hollis-Jefferson is long and lanky which means he has a big stride and makes up a lot of ground quickly. Many defenders underestimate how quick he can be and over play him in one on one situations.
Defensively is where Hollis-Jefferson can really make a name for himself. His quickness and length allows him to guard multiple positions effectively and really puts a strain on his opponent. On the perimeter, he is comfortable playing against ball handlers because his lateral movements are quick enough that he can stay in front of most players. Combined with his long arms, he can reach in for steals when the ball is loose and really disrupt a player’s rhythm. In the paint, while he needs to add weight, he is already a good shot blocker. Hollis-Jefferson demonstrates good timing and discipline when going up and is good at avoiding silly body contact fouls on clean blocks.
Unlike the top end players from this class, Hollis-Jefferson is still quite raw. Especially on the offensive end. This is especially true in the half court when he often disappears for plays at a time. There are a few areas he should look to improve in as a scorer. The first being his range on the jump shot. As it stands, Hollis-Jefferson is not a three point shooter and should look to add that to his repertoire, Having a wingman who struggles to shoot 3s can really clog the offense, you can trust me on that, I am a Toronto Raptors fan. If Hollis-Jefferson can add a consistent three point shot to his arsenal, he would open the court for himself and really put a lot more pressure on the opposing defense.
As he continues to get better, it would be good for Hollis-Jefferson to focus on adding some moves in the post. He is long enough to be used as a 4 in some offensive sets and should take advantage of that. The thing is, that can’t happen unless Hollis-Jefferson can consistently operate, and put up buckets, in the post. That isn’t something he is comfortable doing yet but with coaching, it should improve at a fairly quick pace.
Being a left handed player is an inherent advantage for Hollis-Jefferson but having basically no right hand is not. It will be important for him to really work on adding the ability to both finish at the rim and pass off with his right hand. Once players and teams catch on that Hollis-Jefferson really struggles doing anything with his right, they will make his life miserable by forcing him right every single time he touches the ball.
Overall, Hollis-Jefferson is a really athletic specimen who plays great defense. As an offensive player though, he appears to have a very limited ceiling. That will hurt him as a potential NBA prospect and might lead to him sitting more than he would like in key moments at Arizona.
What to expect at Arizona:
Ultimately, I think Hollis-Jefferson is going to become a premier defensive stopper for the Arizona Wildcats. Whether or not he starts immediately when he arrives on campus should not really be an issue for him. From all that has been said about Hollis-Jefferson, he sounds like a hard worker that is looking to earn his playing time with his effort and commitment.
As his offense develops with practice and coaching, Hollis-Jefferson should start getting more offensive opportunities. At first, he will have to rely on the transition game to put up some easy points and showcase his potential. I think that a small lineup featuring Aaron Gordon as the center and Hollis-Jefferson as the power forward could really cause some damage provided that Hollis-Jefferson refines his offensive game.
It should be a great season for Wildcats fans as Arizona should be primed to make a good run at a NCAA championship. A key part of their success will lie with Hollis-Jefferson.