Gophers' Guard Austin Hollins Works Out For Wolves
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Former Gophers guard Austin Hollins had his first workout with an NBA team on Thursday when he joined five other prospects at Target Center and worked out with President of Basketball Flip Saunders and other members of the Timberwolves’ organization.
Hollins just returned to town after working out in Memphis closer to his family, and he said he expects to stay in the Twin Cities and work out moving forward into June. It is, after all, his home away from home.
That was part of his excitement about working out here for Minnesota.
“It means a lot,” Hollins said. “I’ve been here for four years—it’s a long time. It doesn’t seem like it, you know, it went fast, but it’s a long time—four years. And being able to work out with the hometown team, it’s an honor to be able to work out with them.”
Hollins said he felt the workout itself went well. He didn’t know what to expect heading in, but what he found was that the drills themselves mirror what he and the Gophers ran under coach Richard Pitino last year. The workout itself was rigorous and tested each of the players’ endurance levels; General Manager Milt Newton said the goal was to make the workout difficult to the point where they could identify how well the players would respond when they were tired.
For Newton, Hollins struck him as a player who has a good basketball sense about him. Part of that comes from being around his dad, former NBA player and coach Lionel Hollins, but part of it is simply Hollins is a player who plays the game unselfishly and understands how to maximize his team on the court.
“We all know him to be a combo-type guard,” Newton said. “I think he maxed out at a 40-inch vertical. He’s long, he can defend. He has to improve his jump shot a little bit better. He handles the ball adequately well. He’s a very solid player, but like a lot of the players in the second round, there’s something that prevents them from being a first-round player. So there are things he needs to work on.”
Hollins said he understands that, and he’s looking to work on his all-around game between now and the Draft. At that point, he’ll have the chance to either be a drafted player or work his way onto a Summer League roster to try and showcase his skills in Las Vegas or Orlando.
Either way, he understands there are different paths he might need to take to make it as a professional. He’s willing to take whichever road he needs to in order to make that happen.
“Of course I want to play in the NBA, that’s my first goal,” Hollins said. “But if that doesn’t work out, I’m open to going overseas.”
For now, he’s focused on trying to impress NBA evaluators and get a spot on a roster secured. He’s projected to be a fringe second round pick, but any chance he gets to work out with NBA teams will help his cause.
“I’ve just got to work on my game all around,” Hollins said. “I know it needs work, and that’s what I’m going to be constantly doing every day.”
- The Wolves also worked out Mercer guard Langston Hall, Louisville forward Chane Behanen, Oregon forward Mike Moser, Bosnia forward Adin Vrabac and UMass guard Chaz Williams at Thursday’s workout.
- Milt Newton said the Wolves continue to look at their options on the coaching front, but they are not feeling rushed for time to hire a new coach. “I guarantee you we will have one before the season starts next year.”
- Newton on if Hollins has an edge in these workouts given he is the son of former NBA player and coach Lionel Hollins: “I won't say an edge, but for a lot of coaches' sons, they understand the nuances of the game. They understand making basketball plays, and obviously he's no different. He really has a really good head for the game. We've seen that this past season. He knows how to play, plays unselfish, so those are the things we've seen from him not only in the workout but during the season.”
- Behanan played with Wolves center Gorgui Dieng for two seasons in Louisville, and the two were on the team when the Cardinals won the 2012-13 NCAA Championship. He said he saw Dieng in town earlier in the day, and Dieng told him to just give it his all and work hard: “I caught some of [Dieng’s games] toward the end. I like how Gorgui developed, kept his, kept his mentality throughout the season. Just because of the fact that he didn’t play that much, and got [NBA All-Rookie Second Team], yeah, so that’s a bit accomplishment on his end.”