Arizona Basketball

Hollis-Jefferson Sporting News cover brings to mind another of Arizona Wildcats great

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Street & Smith's preseason magazine in 1988 Sean Elliott looking to his right for an open teammate

Street & Smith’s preseason magazine in 1988 Sean Elliott looking to his right for an open teammate

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Rondae Hollis-Jefferson looking for an open teammate on this year's cover of The Sporting News' preseason magazine

Rondae Hollis-Jefferson looking for an open teammate on this year’s cover of The Sporting News’ preseason magazine

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Maybe it’s just me but when I first saw today Rondae Hollis-Jefferson on the cover of the Sporting News magazine, which rates the Arizona Wildcats No. 1, I could not help but think it looked like another preseason publication 26 years ago.

Street & Smith’s — remember that fine magazine (I miss it) — featured on its 1988-89 cover a picture of Sean Elliott in relatively the same pose.

Hollis-Jefferson and Elliott, both small forwards, each with their mouths agape, looking to their right for an open teammate to deliver a pass. Both about to lead a team to a potential national championship.

For the record, Street & Smith’s rated Arizona No. 9 in its preseason 1988-89 edition. The Sporting News’ lofty No. 1 ranking is an uncommon perch for the Wildcats before the season.

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Arizona has been a preseason No. 1 in the Associated Press poll only three times (2002-03, 2000-01 and 1997-98).

The value of preseason polls? When Arizona won the national title in 1996-97, the Wildcats were ranked No. 19 in the AP Top 25 preseason poll.


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Sporting News college basketball writer Michael DeCourcy also rates Hollis-Jefferson as No. 1 among the publication’s Dynamic Dozen of players who can make the most impact in 2014-15.

“Hollis-Jefferson is unlikely to become a 3-point shooting threat before he leaves the Wildcats, most likely following his sophomore season,” DeCourcy writes. “He made two of his 10 3-point attempts as a freshman. But he is a capable free throw shooter, having made 68 percent as a freshman, and improved as the games grew in importance.

“In the final 11 games of last season — as the Wildcats finished off a Pac-12 regular season title, competed in the league tournament and then fell just short of the Final Four — he made 80 percent of his attempts. Becoming a star will require that he continue driving the ball to contact and converting free throws.”

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DeCourcy rates former Arizona forward Angelo Chol, now of San Diego State, as the No. 10 impact player in the same poll.

ALLSPORTSTUCSON.com publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He also writes articles for Bleacher Report and Lindy’s College Sports.

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