When Gophers coach Tubby Smith first became aware of two dynamic high school players in the Memphis area – both with “A. Hollins” on the backs of their jerseys, both No. 20, he assumed there was some kind of family tie there.
“When we found that out, that’s kind of how we recruited them,” Smith said. “In actuality, I thought they were related, but there’s no relationship at all.”
Of that last part, it turns out the coach is wrong. The Hollins and Hollins relationship on the court has been made ever-so-obvious this season, when the pair have combined to create a strong, often dynamic and impressively unselfish backcourt for the Gophers.
As both have grown, they’ve learned to complement each other. When Andre is going, Austin is key in feeding him the ball. When the latter is feeling it, Andre helps out. Neither feels like they need to take the points, or the assists, so there’s a trend of the two almost alternating, depending on who is feeling it the most.
Against American, Dre Hollins had just 3 points, but Austin had 20 (Andre had seven assists in that one). Against Memphis, Austin had only seven, but Dre had, um, 41 (Austin had five assists). In last weekend’s game against North Florida, Dre struggled all around with just five points and one assist, but Austin picked him up with 12 points and a pair of assists while adding six rebounds.
Even on Tuesday night against South Dakota State, when both players finished with big totals, they sort of flipped halves, with Andre netting the benefit of Austin’s passes in the first (scoring 20 of his 22 points), and Austin becoming more of the offensive focus himself in the second (when he recorded 10 of his 17).
After a season of each getting adjusted to the same lineup and offense, the two guards just look comfortable out there together – and have proven to make each other better, as they each impress with their improvement from a year ago.
And now, the two kids who first saw each other as mirrored jerseys in an AAU game in eighth grade in Memphis are teammates with a special bond, all the way out in Minnesota (although they hung out in Memphis some over the summer).
Family ties or not, it almost seems forecasted.
“I think the stars were sort of aligned for these young men to be together,” Smith said.