Thursday, March 24, 2011

Here’s Why Hollowell Will Thrive At IU; As For Watford ...

So why should we think Jeremy Hollowell is going to be an outstanding college player?

For starters, because he can play defense. How do we know this? Let’s give Lawrence Central coach J.R. Shelt a chance to make the point about his junior swing man.

“He’s a phenomenal defensive player,” Shelt said. “He plays 31 minutes (out of 32) for us and, yes, there are times he’s not as intense as we would like. But when we played Pike in the county tournament, Marquis Teague was lighting us up. Jeremy said, let me guard him. When a 6-8 guy says, let me guard the No. 1 point guard in the country and does a good job of it, that says something.

“I watched him play last summer in AAU. His team was playing Dayton and a guy from Dayton was destroying their post player. Jeremy asked if he could guard him and he did a good job in the post. The kid wants to win and will do whatever it takes to do that.”

The 6-7, 200-pound Hollowell fits the profile of what IU coach Tom Crean wants in a player, which is why he spent three years recruiting him. First, Hollowell is a stud -- a guy ranked No. 23 by and No. 39 by who averaged 18.9 points and 7.1 rebound while shooting 40-percent from three-point range this past season for Lawrence Central. Second, he has what Shelt calls a “winner’s mentality.”

It helps that Hollowell might not be finished growing.

“He’s just 16, so he’s young,” Shelt said. “The potential is there for him to grow another inch or two. He can gain 20 or more pounds easily.”

Hollowell’s commitment to IU won headlines for the Hoosiers Thursday even as Butler was playing in the Sweet Sixteen. That shows the amazing drawing power of the Cream ‘n Crimson program despite the three worst seasons in program’s history.

Hollowell is part of a Class of 2012 group that just might rank as the nation’s best by the time everything is finalized. He will join Indianapolis Broad Ripple guard Ron Patterson (ranked No. 78), LaPorte La Lumiere power forward Hanner Perea (No. 10), Indianapolis Park Tudor point guard Yogi Ferrell and North Carolina center Peter Jurkin (No. 127).

If you want another reason to be optimistic about Hollowell joining the Hoosiers (he can’t sign until November’s signing period), consider where he’s made the biggest improvement since arriving from high school.

“It’s his mentality,” Shelt said. “When he came here he had just turned 14 and he was a little immature.

“His skill has picked up. Everybody wants to be a guard. As a freshman he said, Hey, if I’m going to make waves in this game, I have to work on my skill. Last year he shot in the mid-20 percent from 3-point line. I said, ‘Jeremy you know where they stick guys who shoot 20 percent from the arc -- they stick them in the post.’ This year he came back and shot over 40 percent.

“He is willing to work on his weaknesses. That’s an attribute that not all kids have. It takes a humbleness to do that. He’s like, ‘Coach said I can’t do this. I need to do it.’ That’s a great attribute to have, and he has it.

“When he came here as a freshman, a lot of his buddies were starting. He wasn’t. I had a kid, Marcus Jackson, who was a 6-5 athletic phenom. Jeremy played behind him. He didn’t pout. He just worked every day, worked his tail off. He went at Marcus every day. Some kids didn’t want to guard the kid. He was such a physical presence. Jeremy wanted to guard him every day. It made him better. If somebody tells him he can’t do something, he’s going to get it done.”

Hollowell is determined to be part of the class that brings Indiana back to its national championship-winning ways.

“I’ve got big dreams, big goals,” he said. “I love to win. I love to play basketball. It’s my main focus in life.”

Now you know.


Yes, there are all sorts of rumors about sophomore forward Christian Watford set to transfer. A lot of this is due to the fact he changed his Facebook city to Birmingham, which happens to be his hometown.

Does it mean anything? Who knows? He’s a teenager with all the volatility that age group can bring. Read something into the change at your own risk.

There was a buzz during the season that Watford was unhappy (it was a buzz that first surfaced during his freshman year). Well, when you lose as much as IU has lost the last couple of years, nobody is happy. Coaches are ticked; players are grumpy and practices ain’t fun. Does that mean Watford will transfer or guard Matt Roth, who is set to graduate in three years and set to attend graduate school at IU, will leave the program? No. It could happen, but it doesn’t have to happen.

What does have to happen?

The Hoosiers have to get better. Even more, they have to win. It's time for the losing to stop.

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