Jeremy Hollowell was the fifth and final commitment in the 2012 class, and was a rising top 50 recruit with his ever-improving play in high school. He averaged nearly 19 points and 7 rebounds a game his senior year, and highlight films showed off his sweet outside shot and smooth glides to the hoop. A couple of skills that weren't hyped we saw in his time off the bench last season: capable rebounding and nice timing on blocking shots. And now, in the exhibtion game against Southern Indiana, we see #33 coming off the bench to spell Yogi Ferrell at point guard. Incredible. Hollowell's being dubbed the x-factor for the Hoosiers' season over BT Powerhouse, and perhaps rightly so. The way they see it, JH has to be able to hold down the power forward spot to make the rest of player rotation work. I'm not 100% sold on that, as I think Crean has maybe the most workable options that he probably has ever had. I think the one spot that's nailed down is Yogi's point guard role, as Will Sheehey and Noah Vonleh can slide around on a couple of positions, depending who else is on the floor. I do agree, though, that Hollowell does have the ability to really make things cook for the Hoosiers.
Hollowell's freshman season was fine, although some IU fans were disappointed that he didn't contribute more. I think the fact that he was often coming off the bench to spell Cody Zeller showed how versatile and talented he was, and how much of a logjam for minutes there was ahead of him on the wing. Did anyone want him taking minutes away from Oladipo or Sheehey? And shifting either one of them back would mean taking away minutes from Jordan Hulls, or experienced back-ups Remy Abell or Maurice Creek. Hollowell ended up seing just shy of 10 minutes/game, and averaged 2.8ppg and 2.1rpg. Like Hanner Mosquera-Perea, he collected a greater percentage of fouls than any other single contribution to the total statistical summation of the Hoosier team. However, Hollowell also notched good numbers on per-possession rates of defensive rebounding (13.9, tied-3rd on team with Oladipo), offensive rebounding (10.4%, 4th), and blocked shots 3.8%, 3rd). His field goal percentage was a mere 44.8%, ahead of only Derek Elston, Maurice Creek, and HMP of the players in the regular rotation. Despite that smooth stroke, he hit only 7-of-30 three-pointers (23.3%) and 24 of 38 free throws (63.2%). So Hollowell's debut year, we saw a more advanced and capable defender and yet a lesser offensive threat than expected. Still, if he had been around in Crean's first couple of seasons, IU fans would probably have been full-on hyping the expectations for #33 through the roof during the offseason.
What can we expect from Hollowell this season? Well, I agree with BT Powerhouse that Hollowell is something of a key x-factor for the Hoosiers, and I fully expect him to earn a starting spot. I would disagree that he'll have the most adjustments to make on defense. In fact, I expect his shooting numbers to improve, yes, but only so much. I think 33% clip he displayed on threes in the exhibition games is probably a reasonable expectation for his outside shooting for the year, and I hope he'll do better than the 36% on twos and 62.5% on free-throws that he posted in those two games. Fans shouldn't expect him to shoot as well Christian Watford, nor to fully replace so many things that Oladipo gave the team. I do think we can expect good things from Hollowell, though. I want to see more Scottie Pippen-type contributions than Paul George from Hollowell, where he facilitates the success of others on the floor. I think he'll post starting minutes 25+/game, average double-figures (10-12ppg), and somewhere around 5 rebounds/game. I think he'll also post decent block, steal, and assist rates, although I'm wary of the turnovers that may occur in his new role. These numbers don't sound particularly impressive by themselves, but consider them as part of the whole, with this production allowing Noah Vonleh, Yogi Ferrell, Will Sheehey, and perhaps someone else (Troy Williams? Stan Robinson? Evan Gordon?) to all post double figures as well. I think the key barometer of Hollowell's success may indeed just be the number of minutes played this season - if Crean doesn't want to take Hollowell out for some of the athletes sitting on the bench (Williams, HMP, Devin Davis), that should mean that he is doing something pretty darn well. If he's not starting for most of the season, I will be concerned about his development and his future in Bloomington. I will be delighted if Hollowell is able to take over an Oladipo-type role, where he becomes a point of attack that exploits mismatches, but with Vonleh and Ferrell on hand, that likely won't be necessary too much this year.