Ryan Hollins

Center Ryan Hollins feels like he finally has a stable opportunity for his career to grow with the Minnesota Timberwolves.

John Cross
The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Ryan Hollins has been in the NBA for three seasons, waiting to get a chance to show his skills.

He feels as though the Minnesota Timberwolves provide the perfect opportunity.

“I’m definitely excited,” Hollins said, an ice bag taped to each knee and another taped to his thigh following Wednesday morning’s practice. “The commitment that (president of basketball operations) David Kahn has shown to me, this is a new start. A lot of guys here are in the same situation, young guys trying to find something together.”

The Timberwolves continued training camp Wednesday at Minnesota State, where the team will practice for the next two days. Training camp ends with the preseason opener at 5 p.m. Sunday against Milwaukee at Bresnan Arena.

While many of Kahn’s offseason moves had more media splash, he said that the signing of Hollins was made more with the future in mind. The 7-footer signed a three-year deal as a restricted free agent, hoping to mesh in the post area with Al Jefferson and Kevin Love.

“He’s freakishly athletic,” said Kahn, who first scouted Hollins at UCLA and saw him play several games in the NBA’s Developmental League. “We recognized that we needed some length and shot-blocking. I think you could make the case that we could still add another big body.”

Hollins played four seasons at UCLA, where he averaged 5.7 points and 4.0 rebounds in his career. He finished with 101 blocks, which ranks fourth in the program’s storied history.

He also competed on the Bruins’ track team, specializing in the jumps. He went 7-3 in the high jump, 22-3 in the long jump and 48-71⁄2 in the triple jump.

Hollins was a second-round pick of Charlotte in 2006, and he played in 87 games over two seasons, putting up modest numbers. He was dealt to Dallas last January, and he was given a few more minutes. In nine playoff games, he averaged 2.4 points and 2.7 rebounds.

Though the minutes were limited, Kahn saw a long center who would flourish in new coach Kurt Rambis’ up-tempo style.

“With (Love and Jefferson), I think we complement each other,” Hollins said. “I’m more of a rebounder and runner, and they’re scorers. Each night in the NBA, there are different matchups. Some of the matchups will be right for me, and some will be right for them. We have a nice change of pace.”

Hollins signed about a week before Rambis was hired, and Hollins couldn’t be happier to play for someone he admired while he was growing up.

“(Rambis) pays great attention to detail,” Hollins said. “He appreciates hard work. If you’re not going to work hard and pay attention to detail, you might as well not be out there.”

Hollins said he takes more pride in his defense than offense, having blocked four shots in a game last season.

“My job is to change shots and make sure there are no layups,” Hollins said. “I’m the quarterback of the defense. I control the defense.”

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