Defense continues to define the type of player that Rondae Hollis-Jefferson is.
That’s not to say he is bad offensively, only that he may be the best wing defender in the country and is starting to get credit for it.
One of Hollis-Jefferson’s strengths is his anticipation and that is something that he believes comes naturally.
“I do watch film, but that's just a natural instinct I have,” Hollis-Jefferson said. “I learned that from my brother. He always told me to be like a step ahead of the offensive player.
“Learning their game is the best thing for you to do, and with that being said, it helps to know what they tend to do on certain players. I just try to strike a fear in their heart from jump street.”
Sean Miller remembers seeing Hollis-Jefferson in high school and prioritizing him from the start.
“It was early AAU,” Miller said. “I think it was on the EYBL circuit somewhere. I'm not sure where it was, but right away it became a quest of ours.
“I think Rondae would tell you to make him the most important guy we were recruiting. At that time we were losing that position. I think Solomon Hill was leaving, and we were looking for who would be the next wing player.”
Like Hill, it was what Hollis-Jefferson did beyond scoring that stood out to Miller.
“He just fit in so many ways what I felt like what we were trying to do here at Arizona,” Miller said. “The thing that stood out then and it still stands out now, and I think these guys would say the same thing, he can dominate a game without scoring.
“When he's around great players or other players that are talented, his value is even bigger because his style brings out the best in his teammates. I saw that then.”
It also helps that Hollis-Jefferson is often the toughest player on the court.
“Knowing he's from Chester, Pennsylvania, Chester is a great place for high school basketball,” Miller said.
“Jameer Nelson, I coached against him when I was at Xavier, and he had a toughness about him that I thought if you watched Rondae play for a couple minutes, you could see that Rondae had that same toughness about him.”
Hollis-Jefferson was not perfect when he arrived at Arizona, which is why he is thankful for how Miller has helped him.
“For me, I would say coach has done a great job at making a transition for me from high school to college,” he said. “I would say I didn't understand when I first came here a lot of things, and he put in perspective for me to understand and relate to better.
“He worked with me throughout the transition. I wasn't the best kid to work with, but he understood that, and he sacrificed a lot for me, and I appreciate that. He has done a great job.”