Rondae Hollis-Jefferson is a swiss army knife. Multi-faceted and truly versatile, he’s a player that fits into virtually every scenario. That’s why even as freshman on a loaded roster, he won’t struggle for minutes. And when he gets in the game, he’ll provide an immediate impact.
It all starts with energy on defense for Hollis-Jefferson. He ripped away three steals in his debut against Augustana College, but he also notched a few deflections and showed a relentless motor as he flew around the court. Remember that this kid is a freshman, and compare him defensively to some of the other players that have come through Arizona in recent years. He rates among the best, and he’s just getting started.
Hollis-Jefferson also had a slick weak side block that erased an easy layup, a product of his tremendous length and athleticism. With a 7’2 wingspan and his quickness, RHJ should be able to lock up his perimeter opponents and mix it up down low against taller defenders. That alone will earn him playing time.
It’s that wingspan and quickness that make allow him to turn defense into offense. Hollis-Jefferson took two of his steals back down the court for fast break scores, something he’s capable of doing again and again. He’s a blur in transition, so don’t be surprised if he’s one of the team leaders in fast break points this season.
He’s also viable threat to facilitate on the fast break. Hollis-Jefferson has a good handle at 6’7, but he’s a natural passer who has the vision to make plays for others in the open court. He had 2 assists against Augustana, and as he adjusts to the flow of the offense he’ll become a dime dropping threat in the half court as well. He has plenty of experience playing point guard for Pennsylvania’s illustrious Chester High School.
And while he struggled with his jumpshot, Hollis-Jefferson was still able to impact the scoring column with 10 points on 6 of 9 free throw shooting. He attacked the rim relentlessly on offense, forcing defenders into fouls on shot attempts. If a few more of his shots would have gone down, Hollis-Jefferson may have led the team in scoring in just 20 minutes off the bench.
It only took one game to see the kind of all around impact Hollis-Jefferson brings to the table. He did a little bit of everything, and he provided a boost of talent and energy off the bench. With so many people talking about freshman phenom Aaron Gordon and Arizona’s talented starting lineup, Hollis-Jefferson has been providing starter quality play as a reserve, and that’s worth taking notice of.
Even though he may not start very many games, Hollis-Jefferson is looking very much like the quintessential glue-guy that chips in the little things it takes to win games.