Entering his freshman season, Austin Hollins was thought of as a guy who could knock down shots, hustle when he needed to, and maybe make a few stops on defense. After watching his career get off to an inconsistent start offensively, Gopher fans hoped that he would improve over the course of his career to become a major contributor. Fast forward to early in his junior campaign and Hollins is proving himself to be one of the centerpieces on a team that could be destined for an NCAA Tournament run.
College basketball provides the best postseason tournament in all of sports, heated rivalries and unique and raucous homecourt advantages. What’s also great is that fans can see the transformation of players from freshman to senior year. In Austin Hollins case, we are witnessing the evolution of an awkward and sometimes clumsy player, to one that can be heavily relied upon. Just last game, Hollins defended the Richmond Spiders leading scorer coming into the game, Darien Brothers, and held him to 2 points on 1-11 shooting.
Austin, the son of Memphis Grizzlies head coach Lionel Hollins, has started off the year averaging 14.5 points and 2.3 steals per game; he’s also shooting threes at a 44% clip. He has been a stabilizing force, showing the progression you hope to see for a third year player. His confidence is much higher than in season’s past, and it’s almost tough to watch the Gophers when he is off the court. Through four games, many fans would probably argue that outside of Rodney Williams, Austin Hollins may mean more to this team than anybody else. His defensive tenacity, confidence and steady three-point shooting make him one of the Big Ten’s most unsung stars. He seems poised to fly under the radar until other teams start taking notice, and if the Gophers ever have to play without him, they will run into some real problems.