This is Amelia Rayno's third season on the Gophers men's basketball beat. She learned college basketball in North Carolina (Go Tar Heels!), where fanhood is not an option. In 2010, she joined the Star Tribune after graduating from Boston's Emerson College, which sadly had no exciting D-I college hoops to latch onto. Amelia has also worked on the sports desk at the Boston Globe and interned at the Detroit News.

  Follow Rayno on Twitter @AmeliaRayno

Austin Hollins soaked up the experience with the Timberwolves, but remains realistic

Posted by: Amelia Rayno under College basketball, Gophers coaches, Gophers players Updated: May 30, 2014 - 1:08 PM

Austin Hollins was relaxing at home in Germantown, Tenn., spending some rare down time with his family when he got the call.

He needed to come back to Minneapolis, his agent told him. The Minnesota Timberwolves had invited the four-year Gophers guard to a workout for potential draft picks in two days.

His agent, Teddy Archer had been making the obligatory calls around the league but until that point, Hollins, whose name isn't found on any of the major mock drafts, hadn't heard from any NBA team since graduating earlier this month.

"I was a little shocked," said Hollins, who worked out at Target Center on Thursday afternoon along with Louisville forward Chane Behanan, Mercer guard Langston Hall, Oregon forward Mike Moser, Massachussetts guard Chaz Williams and Bosnian forward Adin Vrabac. "I wasn't expecting it to come right then, but I was excited because it's blessing to have some teams interested in you even though I wasn't talked about highly just to get the opportunity to go in there and try to show what I can do."

Happily, Hollins changed his flight. Interestingly, the move that cut short his family time has a small chance at extending it in a major way.

Hollins' father, former Memphis Grizzlies coach Lionel Hollins, interviewed weeks ago and is considered one of the top candidates for the Timberwolves' vacant head coaching job. Minnesota, meanwhile, has three second-round picks in the June 26 draft: Nos. 40 (from New Orleans), 44 (their own slot) and 53 (from Golden State).

In recent years, the Timberwolves have made it a habit of bringing in locals who aren't highly sought after elsewhere. Lawrence McKenzie, Spencer Tollackson and Dan Coleman all worked out with Minnesota in the absence of many other opportunities. Last season, the Wolves invited both Trevor Mbakwe and Rodney Williams -- who each had interest elsewhere as well -- for workouts.

Between the elder Hollins' 28-year coaching career and Austin Hollins' collegiate campaign in Dinkytown, a potential reunion would give the pair the opportunity to spend more time together than they've had the chance to in years.

"I've definitely thought about it," Hollins said on Wednesday. "It would be a huge difference. Me being in Minnesota, even when he was out of work [this past year], I still wasn't around to spend time with him ... But in that situation, the dad card goes out the window and it's just coach. Off the court, I'm sure we would talk, but inside the lines, no mercy."

It's been years, Hollins said, since the two even found the time to get in a gym and work out together, but it didn't stop them from talking shop over the phone or at the dinner table when they had a meal. 

Perhaps that guiding hand has influenced Hollins' mature outlook. Unlike some talented athletes that have loudly talked of NBA prospects long before and sometimes after the conversation was relevant, Hollins seems to hold a realistic view of his future. But the dream has long been marinating. 

The child of a coach, Hollins practically grew up looking on the sidelines, his youthful eyes growing wider as he watched his dad conduct first the Phoenix Suns, then the Vancouver Grizzlies.

By the time he was in elementary school, he announced to the family that he didn't just want to play basketball -- his brother played at a Division III school in St. Louis -- but he wanted to go somewhere he could play on TV. 

That goal was achieved at the University of Minnesota, where the Gophers regularly played on the Big Ten Network. But little boys' hoop aspirations rarely stop there.

"When I was young, I always had that dream of going to the NBA," he said. "I was just around basketball so much and I developed a love for the game."

Even if the possibility remains slim that he ends up there now, Hollins soaked up the opportunity, one was made even more meaningful due to its location. Before his workout, he pointed out that he has "nothing to lose."

"Being here for four years, there is some kind of comfort level in the city, it's like a second home for me," he said.

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