Hollis-Jefferson comes back to haunt Drexel's Flint

McDonald's East All-American Rondae Hollis-Jefferson competes in the slam dunk contest during the McDonald's All-American Jam Fest in Chicago, Monday, April 1, 2013. (AP Photo/John Smierciak)
McDonald's East All-American Rondae Hollis-Jefferson competes in the slam dunk contest during the McDonald's All-American Jam Fest in Chicago, Monday, April 1, 2013. (AP Photo/John Smierciak)
Posted: November 29, 2013

Drexel basketball coach Bruiser Flint knew about the talents of Rondae Hollis-Jefferson long before he was a McDonald's all-American last season at Chester High.

Hollis-Jefferson has since moved on to Arizona. But before he earned a national reputation, he used to attend Flint's Drexel basketball camps as a youngster.

The coach and the player were set to reunite on the court as Drexel met No. 4 Arizona on Wednesday in the NIT Season Tip-Off semifinal at Madison Square Garden. The game ended too late for this edition.

"He used to come to my basketball camps when he was younger, and I have known him a long time," said Flint, whose team beat Elon and Rutgers to reach the semifinal. "I know how good a player he is, and he plays with such toughness."

Hollis-Jefferson said he benefited from Flint's instruction.

"When I was younger, our whole AAU team would go to the camp and it helped me a lot," Hollis-Jefferson said in a telephone interview.

Hollis-Jefferson said he was excited, not only to face Drexel but to play so close to home. He said a strong Chester contingent was expected to attend.

"It will be great to see so many friends and family," he said.

The 6-foot-7, 215-pound Hollis-Jefferson came off the bench in each of the first five Arizona games, all victories.

He was averaging 10.0 points and 3.8 rebounds. In an example of his aggressive nature, Hollis-Jefferson led the team with 25 free-throw attempts. He has made a seamless adjustment to the college game.

"Basketball is basketball, and it is about playing hard," he said. "If you play hard, you often get the outcome you are looking for."

Hollis-Jefferson is no stranger to the Dragons' gymnasium. Last summer he was among many players from the Philadelphia area who played pickup games there.

"It's funny going from playing pickup games against them to facing them in New York," Hollis-Jefferson said. "We are all friendly, but once you are on the court, we're not friends."

Drexel senior Frantz Massenat stays in touch with the Arizona freshman. The two frequently send text messages to each other.

"He is so tough and so aggressive on both ends of the court," said Massenat, whose Drexel team entered the game with a 3-1 record. "He plays great defense and can play multiple positions."

Flint was told that if Hollis-Jefferson has a strong game against the Dragons, he has no one to blame but himself. All those years of instructing Hollis-Jefferson at the Drexel camps helped refine his game.

"When talking about Rondae, I always say one thing," Flint said, unable to contain his laughter. "I say: Let everybody know he came to the Bruiser Flint Basketball Camp."


mnarducci@phillynews.com

@sjnard

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