Rondae Hollis-Jefferson's draft stock increased a great deal after a stellar end-to-end performance in the NCAA tournament. He averaged 14 points per game off the bench for Arizona - a 4.9-point increase from his regular-season average.
The freshman forward found his own offensive groove midway through the season, and it carried over into the postseason. But where Hollis-Jefferson made his money was the defensive end, and that was a consistent effort all season. In the tournament, he created a steal and blocked at least two shots in every game except for their Sweet 16 matchup against San Diego State.
The Wildcats had their season come to an end in a wire-to-wire battle with Wisconsin in the Elite Eight. Immediately following the loss, sources close to Arizona's camp told Yahoo Sports that Aaron Gordon has more than likely played his final game for the Wildcats. This rumor created a buzz around Tucson, and the fans' desire to know who is staying and who is leaving.
Hollis-Jefferson's freshman season has garnered a lot of attention from NBA scouts, and his name has surfaced in mid through late first-round draft projections. DraftExpress.com currently lists him in the middle of the first round for 2015.
A source close to the situation has told GOAZCATS.com that nothing is set in stone yet, but Hollis Jefferson is strongly considering entering the NBA draft.
Some might cringe at this idea, citing the need for further development, but Hollis-Jefferson appears ready to make the next step. He has an NBA body, he is athletic enough to defend multiple positions - and as far as his offensive game goes - there is more than enough resources on the professional level for him to maximize his potential. Among the worries for a young forward foregoing his last three years of eligibility is that he could potentially become a lottery pick in 2015, and that translates to $2 million or more in salary.
Here is a look at Rondae Hollis-Jefferson as a player:
NBA position: SF or PF - "tweener"
Weight: 215 pounds
Makes hustle plays
Can finish around the rim
No consistent jump shot
Seen very little of his right hand
Not a half-court scoring threat
Hollis-Jefferson is an excellent college player. Although offensively limited, his defense makes him a nightmare for the opposing team's best perimeter player. His workhorse mentality is something Sean Miller loves and can depend on. Currently, Hollis-Jefferson could be considered a "tweener" as his jumpshot is nothing to marvel at, making him easier to defend. Granted, the freshman forward has an NBA-ready frame, but at times he does not display the necessary strength to contend with NBA power forwards.
At the moment, Hollis-Jefferson compares to Michael Kidd-Gilchrist.
The positive aspects about his weaknesses are that they are fixable problems. His ball handling is good enough for the NBA, and it will only become stronger with time. His shooting mechanics can also become a strong suit for the young forward, making him a viable role player for any team that drafts him.
Some still will want Hollis-Jefferson to stay another year to develop, but in the grand scheme of things his skillset translates nicely to the NBA. Aside from the chance of adding $2 million to his rookie contract, he may be ready to make the next step.
His low draft ranking could turn out as a blessing in disguise. It will take years for these bottom-feeder teams such as the Philadelphia Sixers or Milwaukee Bucks to start winning games again, and it would be an unfortunate circumstance for any player drafted to waste precious years with a losing franchise. Hollis-Jefferson has the opportunity to play for an already established team, or a franchise looking to add one more solid bench piece to inch back into postseason contention.
Miller has done an excellent job grooming Hollis-Jefferson this season. If he decides to enter the NBA draft, he could come in as a capable player and contribute from the start.
Editor's note: Joseph Duruaku is the newest addition to the GOAZCATS.com staff. As a contributor to a handful of outlets, his previous experience includes time writing for Dime Magazine and ESPN's True Hoop Network and NBA draft-related items.
Click Here to view this Link.Joseph Duruaku
GOAZCATS.com Staff Writer