UA HOOPS

Arizona basketball: Chance to stop the show

UA signee will likely have task of containing highly rated Wiggins
2013-04-20T00:00:00Z 2014-08-01T11:32:50Z Arizona basketball: Chance to stop the showBruce Pascoe Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
April 20, 2013 12:00 am  • 

BEAVERTON, Ore. - Rondae Hollis-Jefferson has two extra incentives in today's Nike Hoop Summit game.

One, he gets to play with future Arizona Wildcats teammate Aaron Gordon for the first time, on the USA Junior Select team against an international collection of 19-and-under standouts for a World team.

"It feels good to play with him," Hollis-Jefferson said. "Now we can get that chemistry even better for when we go to Arizona."

The other bonus: While Hollis-Jefferson played against Gordon in the McDonald's All-American Game and Jordan Brand Classic, this time there's a different treat awaiting the defensive-minded wing.

He'll get to play directly opposite Canadian wing Andrew Wiggins, the World team's top player.

Yes, that Andrew Wiggins. The one who is the top-rated player in the class of 2013, the one presently being courted by Kentucky, North Carolina, Kansas and Florida State.

And the one who really doesn't even need to sign with anybody because … just about anybody would hold a scholarship for him until classes start in the fall.

He's that good.

And Hollis-Jefferson can't wait to slow him down.

"I'm pretty sure I'll be sticking with him," Hollis-Jefferson said. "He's a tremendous athlete. But I'm very capable of sticking with him, limiting him to one shot, just playing hard defense.

"I think a lot of people will really see how good a defender I am."

Hollis-Jefferson will get a chance to showcase himself today at Portland's Rose Garden, where 10,666 fans showed up last season to watch the Hoop Summit Game, as well as before an ESPN2 audience.

At age 17 a year ago, Wiggins had 20 points and seven rebounds to lead the World to an 84-75 win over the USA. Now he's the clear focal point of the World team.

But while USA Select coach Mike Jones said Hollis-Jefferson would be one of the players guarding Wiggins, he wasn't about to overemphasize the matchup.

"We just obviously want to win the game," said Jones, the coach at perennial power DeMatha High School of Maryland. "They're incredibly talented as well. This is the best World team, talent-wise, since they've been putting on the (game) and to put all our focus on one kid is not going to be very productive."

Then again, just the fact that anyone is even talking about a defensive matchup is proof that the Hoop Summit game is not like the McDonald's All-American Game or the Jordan Brand Classic, the two prestigious high school all-star games played earlier this month.

Today's game is an exhibition of sorts, but also representative of a lot of things. Most notably, the name on the front of the jersey.

"This isn't anything close to an all-star game," Jones said. "We've got a bunch of all-stars playing in it but this isn't an all-star game by any stretch. Winning is the main objective, and the fact that we're representing the entire United States of America is special and not to be taken for granted."

Hollis-Jefferson, like Gordon a veteran of both the McDonald's and Jordan games, has noticed the difference.

"In those (all-star) games you're representing the brand - Jordan, McDonald's - but in this one, you're representing the country," Hollis-Jefferson said. "So you've gotta take it a lot more seriously and play extra hard. Even though you're going to play hard no matter what game you're in, it's just you don't wanna lose in a game like this."

Neither does Wiggins, apparently. While Wiggins was kept off-limits from reporters Friday, he told Sportsnet of Canada a day earlier that he wanted to end his high school career on a good note.

The World team has never won back-to-back Hoop Summit games and trails 4-11 in the series, but that could change tonight.

"I wouldn't want to play my last game and lose," Wiggins told Sportsnet.

But he might, especially if Hollis-Jefferson and Gordon have anything to say about it.

"I expect to see us win," said Gordon, who answered pretty much the same thing when asked about facing Wiggins: "I'm just excited to get a win."

On StarNet: Follow the Cats through the offseason on Bruce Pascoe's blog at azstarnet.com/pascoe

Today

• What: Nike Hoop Summit

• When: 4 p.m.

• TV: ESPN2

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.



AP Top 25


Free Wildcats Sports Newsletter

University of Arizona sports news and blog headlines, delivered daily

Follow the Arizona Daily Star

Featured businesses

View more...

Deals, offers & events

View more...