The Arizona Wildcats have been bringing Rondae Hollis-Jefferson off the bench rather than starting him so far in the early part of this season, and that trend is going to continue for the foreseeable future.
"I had a talk with Rondae between our last game and tonight's game," Sean Miller said after the win over UC-Irvine. "And I really let it up to him," as far as coming off the bench or being in the starting lineup.
"He's clearly one of our five-best players," Miller continued. "And he's earned that through practice, and everything he's done this year and last. And he told me that he felt that coming off the bench was not only good for him but good for our team."
Hollis-Jefferson ended up leading the team with 19 points in 29 minutes against the Anteaters.
"There are a lot of these guys that will talk the talk and say sacrifice, beat their chest when things are going well," added coach Miller. "There aren't a lot of kids who would come off the bench if you're him. It wasn't as if I even had to sell it. That's who he is. It's his greatest strength. He is unselfish to the core, and I also believe that's one of the reasons he's playing so well. Because he's not caught up in himself. He's caught up in the team. And in basketball, you've gotta play both ends, there's a lot going on. You can't be an effective player when you're in your own world, and Rondae embodies a lot of the qualities you want to have in a program. For him to come off the bench, I think it means a lot to our team."
"Just be that energy guy and come in and give my team that spark that they need," Hollis-Jefferson said after the game against UCI. "Just to be that guy they can look to to give 'em that spark and energy they need. When I come in there it's just constant energy. Trying to get loose balls, trying to get 50-50 balls and that's just what I do."
With Rondae coming off the bench, we should expect to see a pretty consistent starting lineup of T.J. McConnell, Gabe York, Stanley Johnson, Brandon Ashley, and Kaleb Tarczewski. Hollis-Jefferson is still getting the same, if not more minutes than all of those guys, so him coming off the bench shouldn't really have too much of an effect on how Arizona looks in the long-run.