Hollis-Jefferson proving there is more than one freshman coming up big for the Cats

Arizona Sports News online

For the first time since 2003, the Arizona Wildcats basketball team is the number one team in the land.

Sean Miller’s crew has been firing in all facets of the game and has one of the deepest teams in Tucson in quite some time. Many have gotten to know the headlining starters with Nick Johnson, T.J. McConnell, Brandon Ashley, Kaleb Tarczewski and the freshman phenom that everyone is raving about, Aaron Gordon.

But it also has been the emergence of another freshman star to next Gordon that has payed huge dividends for the Cats so far, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson.

The native of Chester, PA has been big for the Cats off the bench averaging 8.8 points and 4.7 rebounds per game through nine games in 2013. Not to mention his energy and defense has been a large part of the Wildcats success. Hollis-Jefferson himself has been impressed by how his game has translated to the next level.

“I’d say it (his game) has improved a lot,” Hollis-Jefferson told Sports360AZ.com. “Just working out individually with the coaches. They help he a lot working on my jump shot, getting stronger in the weight room, just doing those things to make myself better individually to help make my team better.”

While success for Hollis-Jefferson off the bat has exceeded expectations from Arizona thus far, them seeing success from a player wearing the number 23 is nothing new. Big names like Michael Dickerson from the National Championship team in 1997 and most recently Derrick Williams are two of the best to put on a Wildcat uniform and wore that same 23.

“It’s the number I’ve always work my whole life,” he mentioned. “It’s because my favorite player Michael Jordan wore it and I feel I do good things in it.”

Those good things are showing on the floor for the freshman. And from his standpoint, he is in the midst of achieving goals he set out for himself before the season started.

“Individually I hope to get a lot better and stronger,” Hollis-Jefferson explained. “Every play I have I get it my all and I just give everything I have to Coach Sean (Miller) and myself. And as a team I hope we can bring a red banner back to Tucson.”

Hollis-Jefferson and the Wildcats will hold the number one ranking for a tough stretch of games this week as they face New Mexico Stat at McKale Center on Wednesday before heading to Ann Arbor on Saturday to face the runner-up’s from the NCAA Tournament last season, the Michigan Wolverines.

A born and bred Arizonan, Jared has had great passion for the hometown teams all his life. He now channel's that passion into covering the pro, college and high school teams around the state as a Multimedia Reporter for Sports360AZ.