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NBA: Austin Hollins looks to impress Wolves in pre-draft workout

MINNEAPOLIS -- Austin Hollins couldn't help but think about what it would be like for his father, Lionel, to coach the NBA team in the same city he spent the last four years playing college basketball.

Austin Hollins
USA TODAY Sports Ohio State Buckeyes guard Lenzelle Smith Jr., right, is guarded by Minnesota Gophers guard Austin Hollins in this January 2014 file photo at Williams Arena.

MINNEAPOLIS - Austin Hollins couldn’t help but think about what it would be like for his father, Lionel, to coach the NBA team in the same city he spent the last four years playing college basketball.
The Minnesota Timberwolves are one of several teams who reportedly have interviewed the former Memphis Grizzlies coach.
But the younger Hollins, who had a standout senior season at the University of Minnesota, had his own future to worry about Thursday, trying to impress the Wolves in his first NBA pre-draft workout at the Target Center.
“I’ve thought about it,” Hollins said about his dad potentially becoming the Wolves’ next coach. “But that’s really not my mindset right now. I’m focusing on me and this workout.”
The Gophers wouldn’t have won an NIT title without Hollins saving his best for last in the final four games.
Hollins was named tournament MVP - and helped Richard Pitino get off to an impressive start in the coach’s first season at Minnesota.
But how much that performance boosted Hollins’ stock and chances at being picked in next month’s NBA draft remains to be seen.
He missed out on invites to the Portsmouth Invitational in Virginia and NBA Draft Combine in Chicago.
His name isn’t mentioned on mock drafts, either.
But Hollins, who doesn’t have another workout scheduled yet, has tried not to let that discourage him.
“What names show up on draft boards is out of my control,” he said Thursday. “I’m just blessed to have the opportunity to come out here and work out. I’m going to work my butt off at every workout I get. Of course, I want to play in the NBA. That’s my first goal. But I’m open for everything. If it doesn’t work out, then I’m open to go overseas.”
Still, Hollins had a good feeling about working out with the Wolves alongside potential second-round prospects such as Oregon forward Mike Moser and Louisville forward Chane Behanan.
“It was better than I expected,” Hollins said of the workout. “I really didn’t know what to expect it being my first workout. But I came out and I thought I did pretty well. A lot of the workouts we do with Pitino are similar to the workouts we do here with the Wolves and for other workouts.”
Wolves General Manager Milt Newton said Hollins tested out with a max vertical jump of 40 inches Thursday.
Newton also praised Hollins’ unselfishness and basketball knowledge being a coach’s son.
“He’s long, he can defend,” Newton said. “He has to improve his jump shot a little bit better; he can handle the ball adequately. He’s a solid player, but like a lot of players in the second round, there’s something that prevents them from being a first rounder.”
After parting ways with the Grizzlies a year ago, Lionel Hollins got to watch his son play for the first time during the season.
He analyzed Gophers’ games closely, if not always in person then on video. He tried his best not to disrupt the adjustment his son had to make playing for Pitino and the new Minnesota coaching staff this past season.
Pitino had his team play at a faster pace but used Hollins as a power forward several times throughout the season because of a lack of interior depth. Hollins struggled with consistency in the Big Ten. But in the end, he improved his scoring and rebounding averages from 10.7 points and 3.2 rebounds as a junior to 12.4 points and 5.0 rebounds as a senior.
“I always said that if you’re just a good scorer and you’re not scoring, then they might as well put you on the bench,” Lionel Hollins said in March. “Sometimes I’ll tell him that he needs to be more impactful and just be more aggressive knowing that he can do certain things. And go do them.
“I said, ‘You can’t be afraid to play. You can’t go out there and be timid. When you started playing, you played because you enjoyed it. And you were also competitive and you wanted to win.”
The Pioneer Press is a media partner with Forum News Service.

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