Meet future Mav Tra-Deon Hollins

So March Madness has officially began, the Mavs still cannot attend the dance, so it is not too early to look at what the Mavs will have for next season.  I am already convinced that my bracket is ruined.

You should have finally accepted the fact that the NCAA will not just let CJ Carter and Mike Rostampour get another year of eligibility for the chance to play in the Summit League and NCAA Tournaments, but hey wouldn’t be cool if Jason Mims just kind of let Carter play on the soccer team for the opportunity for post season?  Or if Bob Herold let Carter play as a pinch runner for the baseball team for his 5th year of eligibility?  I have no idea if Carter is even capable of doing those things, but you would be interested to see what it would be like.

So Tra-Deon Hollins, a 6’2″ guard coming to UNO from the Junior College ranks, played high school basketball at Omaha Central, where he was a part of four state titles, with the likes of Tre’Shawn Thurman and Georgetown/Louisville forward Akoy Agau.  Is it Tra-Deon, or is it TraDeon?  I have seen both.  I am going to need help from Dale Doback on this whole Pan/Pam situation.  That is a Step Brothers reference.  Anyway, Hollins has the chance to be an immediate impact on this basketball team, as most junior college transfers do coming into mid-major teams.

Whenever I present my wife with a good news/bad news situation she always wants the bad news first, so I will throw the bad at you before the good.  It is not really all that bad, but as a sports fan you have the have a small amount of worry.  Hollins only played 9 games at Chipola College this past season before he was dismissed from the team for disciplinary reasons.

That raises your eyebrow with a small amount of concern as a sports fan.  You see it a lot in college sports, or even in professional sports, of someone getting in a small amount of trouble, but it keeps escalating into more and more until that player never plays.  You obviously hope it is nothing, and it is something that the player can learn from and become a stronger person and player.  Sports give that opportunity for some people to find redemption a little faster.

Here is a quote from the Omaha World Herald from Hollins:  It just made me a better man today.  It opened my eyes and made me more wise, and it taught me a lot about decisions and how much that can take a toll on you.

I do not know what happened with Hollins, nor do I really care as it is not really any of my business, but I think that is a great quote from him.  Someone gets in a little trouble and you ask for them to own up to it.  I hate when I hear someone get in trouble and their immediate go to comment it “yeah, but it was all some bullshit.”  Sports (and life) is all about decision making, you know aside from athleticism and whatnot, so to have that character on the team that knows how important decision making is, that is a great addition to the team.  If you had a “yeah, but it was all some bullshit” guy on the team, you would need to worry a little more.  He could become a distraction by doing stupid crap, like accidentally stealing seafood from a supermarket.  I know a guy was a “yeah, but was all some bullshit” guy.  He got in trouble, went on to play junior college basketball, quit basketball after getting in trouble a few more times, and the last I heard he is a drug dealer.  So yeah, do not be that guy, learn, move on, and grow.

Okay, so now onto the good.  13.6 ppg, 4.1 rpg (that is not role playing games), 6.6 apg, 61.5 FG%, 42.9 3pt%, 75 FT%, and 4.6 steals per game in those 9 games.  The season before at Central Community College:  17.1 ppg, 6.2 rpg, 5.3 apg, 47.8 FG%, 37.2 3pt%, 69.9 FT%, and 4.1 steals per game.  Certainly sounds like a guy that can do a little bit of everything.

What is more shocking is that in the Omaha World Herald, he said that he was a defensive player.  Okay, yeah, now I do not know what to do with myself.  UNO’s defense was not very good last year, last in the league in points allowed, and near the bottom in defensive shooting percentage.  The offense was like Oregon football, but the defense was like Omaha Northwest football.  Are they still bad?  There were not very good when I was in high school.  So when you have a guy that sounds like a great scorer on paper, but out loud is completely committed to defense, you are completely freaking excited.  I am just imagining a team coming down the court and trying to get the ball past Hollins and Devin Patterson.  Then when they do, they have to deal with Thurman’s length and shot blocking ability, and then if they can get a shot up they have to deal with Jake White’s rebounding ability.  You just got like super pumped about that, right?

One thing that worries me though is the dying of the hair to blonde?  I remember seeing a bunch of pictures in the Omaha World Herald in 2013 of the Omaha Central basketball team and it seemed like a bulk of the team dyed their hair blonde.  It is cool to have a little unity like that.  Like when a football team all shaves their heads, or when the Boston Celtics starters in 2007-2008 all shaved their heads at the beginning of the season.  But I hope this blonde head thing does not catch on for the UNO Mavericks basketball team.  I do not know if I could concentrate on a game if Jake White, Rylan Murry, and Kyler Erickson went all Slim Shady.

So we are going to add Hollins to a back court of Patterson, Marcus Tyus, Tim Smallwood, Kyler Erickson, Devin Newsome, and incoming freshman JT Gibson.  Sounds like a good back court committee.  The back court is going to need to come up huge with South Dakota State returning Deondre Parks, Jake Bittle, and George Marshall.  That is a back court that is going to be dangerous.

I remember watching the 2013 Nebraska high school state championship game on television.  I was watching to see what Nick Billingsley was like, who was at the time committed to UNO.  I remember thinking that Hollins was incredibly fast and a big piece of energy for the Eagles.  Was he the best player?  I do not know, that team was freaking stacked.  I said a few times throughout the 2014-2015 season that the Mavericks lacked a high energy guard off the bench.  Tyus was that high energy guy off the bench in 2013-2014, and Alex Phillips and Caleb Steffensmeier both had their moments in that role, but no one was really doing that for the Mavs this past season.  Not saying that Tim Smallwood, Devin Newsome, or Kyler Erickson were bad, but not of them were that unstoppable piece of energy off the bench.  Erickson became that toward the end of the season, but none of them were that Nate Robinson or Jamal Crawford type of energy.  Hollins seems to have what it takes to be that much needed chess piece.

Hollins is (clearly) an Omaha guy, and he seems to have a sense of pride to represent the city.  You want those guys mixed in on your team.  Even Kansas finds a few dudes from Lawrence for that representation.  I was reading something yesterday, I already forgot the subject of the article, but it was basically stating that teams cannot get by with the one trick ponies anymore.  The guys who just stand in the corner and take threes are not very important.  Teams need the guys that can do a little bit of everything, and we totally got that in Hollins.

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If you are not watching Tre’Shawn Thurman, you are doing it wrong

You are probably not keeping track, and that is cool, but the 11th post on this blog was about Rylan Murry, so it only makes sense to have the 15th post be about Tre’Shawn Thurman. sends out a tweet.  Verbal Commits updates the information on their website.  The Omaha World Herald writes a short article.  Omaha Central Forward Tre’Shawn Thurman picked the up and coming UNO Mavericks.  I text a friend of mine, who coaches high school and middle school basketball in Omaha, “Thurman is going to UNO.”  Not even a minute later my friend replies, “Whoa!  He’s going to be an immediate impact.  He will instantly replace (Justin) Simmons.  Huge pick up for the Mavs”

It was late in the signing period when Tre’Shawn Thurman committed to UNO, but it was quite possibly the biggest grab the Mavericks ever got in men’s basketball.  I really had written Thurman off for coming to UNO.  I just thought he was too much of a talent for UNO.  He was either the best or the second best player in the state of Nebraska, alongside Benson’s Khryi Thomas, so I just did not imagine him coming to UNO.  His 2012-2013 Omaha Central team, with some enough practice hours put in, could have beat UNO’s 2012-2013 team.  The first time I saw a highlight video, I could see instantly that he was a special player.  Was he going to be at a Power 6 school?  Not sure, but I thought at least a Missouri Valley, Athletic 10, Mountain West type of guy.

We can admit it, there is no athlete growing up in Omaha with dreams of playing at UNO.  They did after all, just become division one a few years ago.  That is kind of student life for UNO when you think about it.  Many local kids grow up thinking they will go to Nebraska, Creighton, Iowa, Iowa State, or somewhere far away, but they learn more about UNO while they are in high school and see what the university has to offer.  It grows on you.  I had the choice of going to UNO or Creighton, due to financial reasons, I picked UNO, and I have never looked back at it as a poor decision.  I would probably be a different person if I went to Creighton.  Sometimes I think Creighton’s student recruitment slogan should be:  Why come to Creighton?  There is really no other place out there that you are going to become a bigger asshole…

For whatever reason, the bigger schools weren’t offering, but now for the best, Tre’Shawn is a Maverick.  He has the potential to be the greatest Maverick of all time.  Thurman can do a little bit of everything.  He can score from anywhere on the court, handle the ball, defend the perimeter, defend the post, post up on offense.  Through the first years of transition, UNO has never had a chance with a kid like this, and I can not really think of anyone they’ve ever had at his size that can do what he is capable of. 

My wife grew up on the West Coast, played division one softball, also played basketball in high school, so she has seen her fair share of star athletes, she played against Monica Abbott in college…  She’s seems to not get too impressed when she sees some local players in action.  She’s only been WOWed by a few UNO athletes that had her say “that player is really good” or something related.  Allie Matthewson in softball, CJ Carter, and now Tre’Shawn Thurman have really been the only players that have stuck out as players that have impressed her with their play.  By the way: my wife teaches a few courses at UNO so either way you look at it, it’s not a bad thing as a UNO person to impress her…

There has been some inconsistency for Thurman so far, but what college freshman doesn’t have that?  Many of the seniors around the Summit League have had a handful of bad games so far this season.  Some locals knew Thurman by name since he was a three time state champion at Omaha Central, but it’s never a guarantee that someone’s skills will transfer to the next level, so it is not like everyone knew right away what UNO had picked up in a player like Thurman.  Thurman came off the bench his first game.  He showed some promise with 7 points and 2 rebounds in the game and he never looked nervous in that first game like many freshmen can look.

An injury to Jake White in the opener opened the door for Thurman to become a starter.  No one was happy about White getting hurt, at least I hope not, but I felt happy that we as fans could get a real look at Thurman with his new responsibilities as a member of the starting five.  Ten points and eight rebounds in your first start isn’t bad, 4 of 13 isn’t ideal, but still, it was his first game as a starter and it was on the road in Seattle.  The Mavs lost that game by 24, so I don’t really think casual basketball fans really saw ten points and eight rebounds as a success.  Then in what was the program’s biggest win, he gets 12 points and 7 rebounds and shoots 6 of 7 in 21 minutes.  If people did not think that Thurman was for real after just his third game, I am not sure if they were paying any attention at all.

In his first home start, it was freaking crazy watching Thurman.  He had some new goggles, I commented that he looked like Invisible Boy from Mystery Men, and he did a little bit, but I had to go look it back up, Kel Mitchell has dyed blonde hair in that film.  Forgive me for not remembering every detail of an awful 1999 film.  Nevada had former Benson Bunny Tyron Criswell on the team, which drew in a crowd of 1723, UNO’s biggest home attendance on the season so far, and Thurman put on a show for everyone to see.  18 points, 6 of 9 from the floor, two threes, five blocks.  That five blocks is the most that any player has had in a game for UNO since the transition (Taijhe Kelly has had 8 blocks twice for the women).  Thurman had so many people in Ralston Arena asking – He’s really only a freshman?  How did they get him?  Do you remember when LeBron James’ Cavaliers were playing Stan Van Gundy’s Magic in the playoffs and Van Gundy kept saying that James was doing things in the series that were unbelievable?  That’s what I was saying about Thurman after that game.  Side note:  Every time Gary Sharp says “…if you’re keeping score at home…” I feel like it is a personal jab at me.  I’m probably just paranoid though.

Yeah, okay, maybe...
The original Invisible Boy

By the way, a weird stat:  In home games with an attendance of 1200+, Thurman shoots 59% from the floor, in home or away games with attendances less than 1200, he shoots 42% from the field.  In all games with an attendance for 1200+, Thurman shoots 51% from the floor, and he also shoots 60% from three.  In the five games that UNO has played with an attendance of less than 1200, he has shot 42%, and 25% from three.  Is any of this significant?  I am not sure, I can barely read, but what I do know is that we need to get more people to come see this kid.

If you read about my man crush on Rylan Murry, you would have seen that when UNO first took to division one I started following all the high school and junior college players that the Mavericks had on their recruiting radar.  I quickly found this was a poor action on my part because high school kids are incredibly immature, and following a bunch of 16 to 18 year olds on social media is pretty creepy when you are approaching thirty years old.  Most of these kids just seem so whiny, they don’t really want to work for things, and they want everything handed to them.  That’s kind of true for American culture in general, but I’ve never seen Thurman be whiny.

I see him on Twitter talking about putting in work to get better in school.  I saw him on Twitter talking about putting in work to get better on the basketball court.  Thurman puts in work.  Before the season, he took pride in being a division one athlete, and being a college student, frequently snapping pictures of his new UNO gear and post work out stuff.  Yeah, it is creepy to follow college kids on twitter.  Seriously kids, you need to learn to not put everything out there.  But after struggling at Chicago State, going 1 of 7 from the floor and 2 of 8 from the free throw line, what did he post?

 · Dec 29

I gotta work on FT it’s a must

By the way, the attendance at that Chicago State game:  342, the lowest of any game the Mavs played this season.

When you watch Thurman play, after a missed shot, or a turnover, or a missed opportunity at a rebound, you can see the pain in his eyes.  He’s not a player that just says “aww gee that sucks.”  He’s a young man that accepts ownership and responsibilities for things that don’t go right.  That is becoming a rare find now a days.  When you read about how Thurman asks questions and listens to everything that guys like Mike Rostampour have to tell him, you know he wants to get better and be the best that he can be.  He is not an eighteen or nineteen year old know it all who thinks he has it all figured out already, he accepts that he does not already know everything he needs to know.  That is also a rare find in young kids now a days.  If I were in the same shoes as Thurman, not literally, I know would be incredibly motivated to get better every day in front of my hometown fans.  Hey remember that time Creighton did not offer me a scholarship?  How about that instance Nebraska did not give me an offer?  You were wrong about me, I will show you.


If UNO never made the transition, Thurman would have never became a UNO Maverick.  Maybe he would have became a walk on at Creighton or Nebraska, or maybe a scholarship player at a mid-major in a city you have never heard of.  But Thurman is a Maverick, and just like the UNO athletic program, he is only going to get better.  UNO fans and Omahans that are not die hard Mav fans need to appreciate this while we have it.