It’s a question that had been in my mind during months of not being able to watch college basketball. Time I tried to fill a void with watching NBA Summer League, which is fine. It’s wasn’t that fine really, I worked out a lot in that time and lost 20 pounds. I also created my My Career player to be Tra-Deon Hollins
Anyway, Tra-Deon Hollins might be the most complete players that the Mavericks have ever had, and the first legitimate guy that the Mavericks have had to with a chance to at least make a NBA or NBDL roster some day. Looking around at the three division one programs in the state of Nebraska, he may have the best shot at the NBA or NBDL out of players that would be eligible for the 2017 NBA draft.
Mock drafts do have Creighton’s Marcus Foster as a potential 2nd round draft pick at this point, but he is still a junior, so we’ll see if he wants to leave Creighton early. The city is getting robbed out of Foster and/or Maurice Watson versus Tra-Deon Hollins. It’s like Greg McDermott and staff stole candy from a baby and then threw it in a dumpster.
With Hollins’ talent, he brings some excitement to a college basketball team that is already a fun product to watch. I’ve had friends that poked fun at Omaha even trying to become division one that have asked “who is that guy at UNO who leads the whole nation in steals? I need to get out and see that guy. That’s awesome!”
Is there a more complete player that you have seen around the Omaha area recently? Some writers have actually referred to him as the most all around player in the country. Kerry Mill of Bleacher Report named Hollins as one of the top 25 seniors in college basketball for 2016-2017.
After averaging 12.5 points per game, 4.8 rpg, 6.1 apg, and leading the nation in steals per game as a junior; it’s hard to find another player of recent memory that do the things that Hollins can. Hollins might be the most likely player in the entire country that would be capable of getting a quadruple-double in a game.
I guess one could claim that his 28% three point field goal shooting would never cut it at the next level, and Rajon Rondo would disagree, but in the second half of the season Hollins was able to shoot threes at nearly 40%.
Maybe the 12.5 points per game is not incredibly attractive, especially on a team that plays at such a fast pace. It takes some time for junior college transfers to get into the groove at the division one level. For Hollins, that offensive groove maybe started coordinating itself in late December, maybe?
From December 22nd and on, Hollins averaged 14.4 points per game, and had slower teams in that statistical stretch like Denver and Western Illinois in there. This season Hollins could be the 2nd or 3rd scoring option in most games after Marcus Tyus and Tre’Shawn Thurman, and will also be the team’s primary ball handler. The points and the assists are going to be on the rise.
Fun Fact: 4 of the last 5 players to lead the NCAA in steals per game all at least made the NBDL in some capacity. The 5th, is Tra-Deon Hollins who still has one more year of eligibility.
2015-2016: Tra-Deon Hollins
2014-2015: Corey Walden (3.1 spg) played for the Maine Red Claws, and appeared in four NBA preseason games for the Boston Celtics.
2013-2014: Briante Weber (3.46) played for the Sioux Falls Sky Force in 2015, and the Memphis Grizzlies and Miami Heat in the 2015-2016 season. He even played in 2 playoff games for the Heat.
2012-2013: Duke Monday (3.1) was drafted to play in the NBDL but never made an official team roster.
2011-2012: Fuquan Edwin: (2.7) played for the Sioux Falls Sky Force, and has played on the Oklahoma City Thunder and New Orleans Pelicans Summer League teams in the past.
One may want to argue that Hollins’ 4 steals per game is inflated because of the high pace of the Mavericks and the fact that they have a higher quantity of possessions as compared to other teams. I doubt Hollins is going to send an apology letter to anyone anytime soon for being responsible for creating 4 more possessions a game for the Mavericks, with his steals alone.
Maybe a pessimist would want to take a minute to claim that Hollins only looks good because of the weak competition he faces. You know who else had to face that criticism? Steph Curry and Damian Lillard. I am not comparing Hollins to Curry or Lillard, just saying that it might be possible that some of the best guys out there get overlooked.
I did sit there at Weber State and watch Damian Lillard take on the Big Sky and think that I was watching a NBA point guard, while all of my wife’s Portland friends and family thought Lillard was too small for the NBA and a waste of a draft pick. I’m just going to set a little nugget it out there: Hollins would be a better back up to Lillard than Shabazz Napier. Okay, I’ve officially reached full out homer biased mode.
While Hollins has a small sample size so far, since he has only played in one division one season, he has played well against NCAA tournament teams. In three games last season, two against South Dakota State and one against Colorado, Hollins averaged 17.7 points, 7.3 rebounds, 7 assists, 3.7 steals, and shot 58 percent from the field. With a tough schedule this season, Hollins should be able to showcase his talents against four to five point guards that should be in the NBA or NBDL at some point.
Hollins has mentioned before that he loves the big games, and loves going up against the bigger competition. If one wants to knock that he doesn’t go up against the best competition, can you imagine how much better he may get against even better competition?
Hollins will definitely have his day to showcase his skills on the court to professional basketball teams. The small market teams love bringing in players from mid-major programs with maturity and confidence to play at the next level. The Utah Jazz invited over 100 players to work out so the Jazz could analyze their talents.
If you don’t think Hollins is booming with confidence, take a look…
Derrin Hansen also stated in a radio interview that the coaching staff was able to analyze that defenses were figuring out that Hollins would either take a three point shot or drive the ball to the inside and expected it by the end of the season. So over the summer, Hollins worked to improve his mid range jumper as it was a weakness of his. If the most all around player in college basketball fixed his biggest offensive weakness to become an even more all around player, he could become the deadliest player in college basketball.
Hollins was the most improved player for the Mavericks, and maybe the Summit League, as the season went on. With his current skill set, maturity, work ethic, and confidence, he is only going to get better and better.