Alex Klincewicz of HoopsRambler.com has a uniquely funny view on the basketball world. Check out this special to PGU on former Wildcat Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, and be sure to visit Klincewicz’s website for more stellar basketball content. Make sure to click the links below to see highlights.
There’s nothing like high school basketball in Philadelphia.
A city jam packed full of Basketball history. Division I teams fill its streets to the brim. Nothing makes me feel more at home than one of the old heads at the local grocery, craning at me, standing 6’5”. Giving me a playful slap on the arm, and demanding to know “where I play ball at?!”
Philadelphia has earned a reputation as unfriendly, and in part that is true. We’re unfriendly to you. But the congeniality of a warm gym on a cold Wednesday night, half filled bleachers, basketball on display might as well be a holiday homecoming.
There’s an energy in the city that you can feel, emanating from the expanses of row-homes that carpet the sides of the Delaware River for miles. Philadelphia has history. Yes, there’s the whole Franklin, Washington, Liberty Bell romanticism. But the energy comes from a different kind of spirit that resonates through this blue collar town. Basketball.
Wilt at Overbrook. Beginning as a legend, whispers of a “Big dipper.” So freakishly tall he had to duck through every doorway in the city, all the while taking home state titles in THE HURDLES. Dr J, doing things no one could have ever imagined could be done with a basketball, the coolest man on the planet. That is, until Darryl “Chocolate Thunder” Dawkins shattered backboard after backboard. Of course, not without spending the offseason honing his “interplanetary funkmanship.”
Charles Barkley defied physics and dietitians alike.
Kobe Bryant floored NBA scouts at Lower Merion.
Every young man in The City of Brotherly Love doesn’t just play ball for fun, they play it for all of that. Like it or not, know it or not, they play ball for all of that.
Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and his Chester Clippers dominated not just Philadelphia, but Pennsylvania for almost three years. Hollis-Jefferson led Chester to its first and only undefeated season. 8 state championships, never once were they undefeated. Chester alum Jameer Nelson couldn’t do it, yet as a Junior Rondae took home the title without a loss, and the next year would lead them again to the finals, only to fall to Lower Merion.
Now, I’m going to say roughly the same thing twice. It’s not an error. It’s going to show you the power of punctuation, because I’m an educator like that.
- Rondae Hollis-Jefferson averaged double figures over his two years at ‘Zona and couldn’t shoot?
- Rondae Hollis-Jefferson averaged double figures over his two years at ‘Zona and COULDN’T SHOOT.
See that? Emphasis.
Hollis Jefferson is broke from outside of the paint, but luckily for anyone with a stake in his success, he knows it. He attempted a little over 1 three pointer per 100 possessions during his tenure as a Wildcat. Think about that. How does that conversation go in the opposing coaches’ meeting?
“Yeah, so don’t guard him anywhere but at the rim.”
“And he still makes like 67% of those anyway.”
Before going any further, it should be noted that Hollis-Jefferson makes his living on the defensive end of the floor. If he didn’t lay bricks like he was trying to build the Pueblo, he would be sitting considerably higher on draft boards.
Hollis-Jefferson’s physique is prototypical for a young NBA swingman. His recorded wingspan is 7’2”, though his height without shoes is only 6’5.5”.
I didn’t manage to see every Arizona game this year, but I am confident he arrived to the arena on multiple occasions dragging behind him a tangle of deck chairs and beautiful women caught in his arms.
Rondae has plenty of room to add weight to his frame, but has already shown the strength and ability to guard much bigger men down low. The defensive angles and approaches Jefferson takes are almost always advantageous to the position of the team defense, a huge indicator of intelligence on that side of the floor. His footwork is very strong, and coupled with the ridiculous length of his arms, the offense is simply enveloped once Jefferson has halted their momentum.
His lateral quickness and anticipation make him not only a threat to lock up perimeter players, but intercept passes by reading passing lanes and getting out on the break, the area on offense in which he can really thrive. Attempt to shoot over Hollis-Jefferson when he’s too close and the attempt gets sent back, even from three point range. He’s also explosive and rangy enough to contest shots when it seems he is far out of position or screened.
The part of Hollis Jefferson’s game that translate’s everywhere on the court is his grit, hustle, and nonstop motor. This isn’t white guy bench warmer motor. Hollis-Jefferson is going to get all up in your shit, over, and over, and over, and he’s not going to stop until he’s standing over you, making you admit through tears that your mother’s homemade meat sauce sucks. (I saw a bully do this once, and though I don’t condone any form of bullying, that’s about as close to condoning it as I could get.)
He averaged just less than one block and one steal per game, but the incessant notion of the possibility certainly is something to be considered.
Hollis Jefferson is a natural rebounder. With good positioning, and the help of his tentacles, he averaged almost 7 boards a game his final season in Arizona. He has nice anticipation, and great hands for the ball, although he tends to pull the ball down to almost his knees before looking for the putback if the initial dunk isn’t available.
Turning defense into offense is one of the easiest and most effective ways to score in basketball, particularly in the NBA. Hollis-Jefferson’s long fluid strides, pop in his legs, and magnetic ability to finish at the rim make him more dreaded than a D.U.F.F. in an odd man situation. He looks to play above the rim, and has a natural ability to draw fouls.
In the half court, he plays downhill basketball, and has a fairly solid handle, though has a tendency to get a bit too technical, rather than let his length do the work. Jefferson’s explosive first step makes his inability to score from distance tolerable, and his vision and passing make it occasionally downright forgettable. Though he only averaged an assist and a half per game, Hollis-Jefferson has an uncanny knack for finding an open man in traffic for the score.
His penchant for the paint however, does not come without its flaws. Yes, Hollis-Jefferson can drop jaws with his passing at times, yet at others, his lack of understanding of the game’s pace causes the young swingman to force both passes, and drives for himself. His motor runs so close to redline, that he’s almost undisciplined. The ADHD kid down the street that has all the best intentions but you’re probably going to hold off on letting him babysit for a while.
Rondae Hollis-Jefferson has the stuff. That energy that only someone with a town full of basketball legend behind him can exude. He wants the kind of respect only two old men, sitting on a park bench in Strawberry Mansion, chewing on gas station cigars can give. He may not come out of the NBA a star, but he’s going to leave something for those two to talk about.