Minnesota is a team that has quite a bit of talent on their roster.
Trevor Mbakwe has a shot to be a first-team all-Big Ten big man. That’s what happens when you average a double-double. Ralph Sampson III joins him on the front-line giving Minnesota one of the best front court duos in the conference. Minnesota head coach Tubby Smith also has a plethora of talented youngsters at his disposal, headlined by Rodney Williams and Maurice Walker and completed by the freshmen and sophomores that are going to make up the back court rotation.
What Smith doesn’t have, however, is a point guard. Justin Cobbs and Devoe Joseph both transferred out of the program in the past year. Al Nolen, who was as underrated as anyone in the league, graduated after last season.
Could that lead guard role end up falling into the hands of a freshman?
“I saw all the leadership skills, all the qualities,” Smith said of Andre Hollins to Amelia Rayno, to Gophers beat writer for the Minneapolis Star Tribune. “He’s shown it so far in practice and in individual workouts and in the classroom, in the weight room, everything we’ve asked him to do. Those are good indicators that he’s capable of doing what we expect him to do, is be a leader and a point guard in the Big Ten.”
“If he’s good enough and he wins the job, then he’ll start. We’ve started freshmen in the past. We don’t mind starting them now.”
The issue, however, is whether or not Hollins is truly a point guard. He’s listed as a shooting guard by ESPN, Rivals and Scout. ESPN says that his jump shot is his biggest weapon, while Scout says he has one of the “quickest triggers in the class”. ESPN also calls Hollins a straight-line driver that struggles in the mid-range while Scout says he can be neutralized when he has to create his own shot. Those aren’t exactly the descriptions that usually are attributed to point guard prospects.
That said, those descriptions may have come as the result of what Hollins was called upon to do as a high school and AAU player. It doesn’t mean he’s incapable of playing the point. And Minnesota definitely needs a point guard. They are a team with plenty of size and a roster full of athletes that will be quite effective defensively when they but in. But they are going to struggle to score without a creator.
That’s a tough spot for a freshman being forced to play out of position to land in.
Rob Dauster is the editor of the college basketball website Ballin’ is a Habit. You can find him on twitter @ballinisahabit.