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July 21, 2014
Camp eval: Rondae Hollis-Jefferson
Last season, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson was a defensive ace on the brink of an NBA Draft breakthrough. He has a year of college experience, but the young forward is returning to Arizona to make a run at a national title and cement his name in the 2015 Draft Lottery.
He saw his role have a steady increase during the season, and the national spotlight gave the outsiders looking in a different perspective of Hollis-Jefferson. At times, it appeared that he was looked at as a fun-loving ball player who would need serious fine-tuning before he made the leap to the professional level.
Hollis-Jefferson was not slated as the starter when Brandon Ashley went down with an injury against California. He made his role work for him and it resulted in the Chester, Pa., native earning a spot on the Pac-12 All-Freshmen Team.
The 33-win Wildcats are returning a team with a lot of veteran players. Hollis-Jefferson is expected to slide into a feature role this upcoming season.
With expectations once again high in Tucson, Hollis-Jefferson has spent the summer polishing his skills. He was talked about as one of the best players at Kevin Durant's camp in June. The high praise carried over to Las Vegas, Nev., where the 6-foot-7 forward participated in the LeBron James Skills Academy.
The first day was not much of a surprise, in regards to Hollis-Jefferson's showing. He was dialed in, defending the nation's top players with little trouble and he even hit a couple jumpers from the mid-range.
It is not a secret that his jump shot needs work, but that was not a focal point for Hollis-Jefferson heading into James' camp.
"I wanted to show that I can be a facilitator," Hollis-Jefferson said. "Last year, I was looked at as more of a defender, but I know my game and I know that I can facilitate and become an all-around player."
Hollis-Jefferson did show some savvy when creating for his teammates, but the verdict is that he is a defense-first player - that's his bread and butter.
"He's been performing well so far," an NBA scout said. "Honestly, if he could shoot the ball with some consistency, he would have been able to be a top ten pick in this year's draft."
Several scouts are high on Hollis-Jefferson. His defensive prowess, ability to finish at the rim and high motor has many organizations taking notice of him.
It is tough to place a ranking on his performance at the camp - there was good and then there was "um, should he have done that?"
After a stellar freshman campaign, Hollis-Jefferson showed off the gains he made in his game at James' camp. His climb up the ladder of Pac-12 household names is almost complete. His new role will create a clear picture of what the fun-loving, defensive stalwart can really do.