Rondae Hollis-Jefferson says he has a goal of becoming a top-10 pick in the NBA draft, which means he’ll need to spend at least another year in Tucson.
You get the feeling he’s OK with that.
In recent weeks, the fun-loving freshman forward from Chester, Pa., has joined a fraternity, has gone paintballing and has enjoyed strolling around a hometown he has quickly adopted.
“I embrace all the love you get around town,” Hollis-Jefferson said. “I’m walking through the mall, and a lot of people are calling your name. You go through campus, and it’s ‘Hey, Rondae!’ and I love that type of stuff.
“This is a great city to play basketball in. It’s a great university to play for, and the fans are unbelievable. You don’t see fans like this everywhere, especially on the East Coast. It’s just a great feeling to know no matter what that the people in Tucson still have your back.”
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Hollis-Jefferson’s affable personality even fit in so well at Alpha Epsilon Pi that he was invited to join the traditionally Jewish fraternity — and accepted. There’s even Instagram evidence of his pledge.
Hollis-Jefferson laughed when asked about it Tuesday, saying he started having dinner and hanging out at the fraternity with a UA basketball manager.
“The president asked me if I wanted to be a part of it,” Hollis-Jefferson said. “I was like, ‘I don’t care. I’m down, you know.’ Then they initiated me or whatever, and I thought that was pretty cool.”
No doubt the Wildcats are happy to have Hollis-Jefferson back in their fraternity, too. Center Kaleb Tarczewski and forward Brandon Ashley also confirmed they are returning Tuesday, and together they could help put together a UA team as successful as last season.
Maybe even one that makes the Final Four or wins the NCAA title.
“The one reason we’re all coming back here is we have sort of unfinished business here at U of A,” Tarczewski said. “There’s no question that all three of us could say we’ve had a great career no matter how long it’s been. …
“When we signed on here our goal was to make it to a Final Four, to be able to play for a national championship, and next year that’s our goal. We’re all grateful to say we have another year, and hopefully we’ll get it done.”
At the same time, Hollis-Jefferson might be able to meet his personal goal, too. According to Draft Express’ Jonathan Givony, he would have been a first-round pick this year if he left Arizona — but could be a lottery pick if he returns with improvement in his shooting.
“My goal my whole life was to be a top-10 pick, and I believe I can do so,” Hollis-Jefferson said. “I think I’ll put on about 10 more pounds of muscle and work on my jump shot and just become more of a leader.”
UA coach Sean Miller said he does not expect any transfers out of the program, so the losses of Aaron Gordon and Nick Johnson mean that Arizona sits at the scholarship maximum of 13 for next season.
“I think we’re pretty locked in,” Miller said. “I think we have a great group with knowing who’s leaving and who’s staying. So I think this really slows everything down. Now it’s about having a great offseason.”
Miller said he has completed his postseason meetings with players and has reviewed what happened with seldom-used freshman forward Zach Peters, who transferred from Kansas.
“We move on from there,” Miller said of Peters.
- Gordon will sign with BDA Sports Management, according to his mother, Shelly Davis. BDA represents his brother
- , who is playing in Italy, as well as former UA players
- Jordan Hill
- Chase Budinger
- Even though Tuesday was the date of the NCAA-imposed withdrawal deadline for draft entrants, Miller said that deadline is “meaningless” and was unrelated to Tuesday’s announcements. As long as players don’t officially declare for the draft, they don’t need to withdraw and thus can consider leaving until the NBA’s April 27 deadline to declare for the draft.
- Serbian center
- Dusan Ristic
- will sign his UA letter of intent today, the first day of the spring signing period, according to his coach at Sunrise Christian (Kan.) Academy,
- Kyle Lindsted