Point guards are the most important players on the basketball court. They have the ball in their hand more than any other player and their decision-making skills — or lack thereof — often determine whether or not a team has a good offense.
Richard Pitino must be thanking his lucky stars — and Tubby Smith — that Andre Hollins is his point guard. Pitino’s life as the first year coach of the Minnesota Golden Gophers is a lot easier than most new coaches because he has Hollins, a 6-foot-2 junior out of Memphis, TN.
Andre Hollins has been the starting point guard for Minnesota since he set foot on campus, and the results have been mostly spectacular. You would think that averaging nine points per game as a true freshman in the Big Ten Conference automatically catapults you to somewhere near the top of the list of the league’s best point guards, but Hollins has always been overshadowed by upperclassmen or players on more consistent teams.
Now that Jordan Taylor, Trey Burke, and Brandon Paul are gone, Hollins should waltz into the discussion for the league’s top point guard… except that baby-faced Aaron Craft refuses to leave Ohio State even though he’s been there for fourteen years. Hollins may be relegated to a spot on the honorable mention All-Big Ten team again, since Gary Harris is more widely respected simply because he’s the point guard for the Michigan State Spartans. Harris is very good, but he has five-star recruits playing around him to ease his burden. Hollins is playing with two-and-three star recruits.
There’s no way that Andre Hollins should be anything less than second team All-Big Ten this year, especially if he keeps up his current level of play — 16.2 points, four rebounds and three assists per game, 85 percent FT in 30.5 minutes — but unless Minnesota finds a way to finish in the top five of the conference, Hollins likely won’t get enough attention to surpass Harris or even Penn State point guard Tim Frazier for the second-team nod.
Perhaps next year, when Craft is gone, Hollins will get the attention he deserves. Until then, he will continue to hold the top spot in the Big Ten’s “Most Underrated Player” race.