For some, the basketball odyssey leads to strange places. Rahlir Hollis-Jefferson has taken the globetrotting to a different level.
The Chester, Pa., native and Temple alum spent the 2013-14 season playing in the tiny European country of Luxembourg in the Total League, not exactly known as a stepping stone to the NBA. In fact, the size of Luxembourg is 999 square miles, which makes it smaller than Rhode Island, the smallest of the 50 states.
But after playing for Chester High and Temple and watching his brother Rondae play for the University of Arizona, Hollis-Jefferson finds Luxembourg might suit him a bit.
“It’s quiet,” the laidback and soft-spoken Hollis-Jefferson said after Tuesday’s workout at the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine. “It’s pretty cool. It’s a beautiful place to visit if you ever want to go.”
Does anything interesting ever happen in Luxembourg?
“Actually, no,” Hollis-Jefferson said.
“It was pretty cool. I enjoyed the time there and the people were nice.”
Hollis-Jefferson might be a bit tired of the quiet and solitude of Luxembourg, though. After the year in Europe in which he averaged 15.2 points and 9.0 rebounds and 2.4 steals per game, Hollis-Jefferson appears ready for a new challenge. Considering he was a 6-foot-6 center in Luxembourg, he’ll definitely find it playing basketball in the U.S.
Where will he find it? That’s the debate. As a member of the Sixers’ team traveling to Las Vegas for the team’s second summer league at the end of the week, Hollis-Jefferson will have the stage to show off his skills.
Does he have enough game?
At Temple, Hollis-Jefferson averaged 8.9 points and 6.1 rebounds per game in his senior year for a team that went 24-10 and won a game in the NCAA tournament. He was also second-team All-Big 5 and led the team in steals.
Though defense is his calling card, Hollis-Jefferson has little to speak of in perimeter offense. He did not even attempt a three-point shot in his senior year at Temple and went 0 for 3 from long range in four years. During his first pro season in Luxembourg, Hollis-Jefferson shot 12 for 54 (22.2 percent) from three in 30 games.
Indeed, defense is his strong suit.
“I had to be more aggressive and shoot a lot more over there,” Hollis-Jefferson said. “That’s going to help me coming back [to the U.S.].”
Being around the area will help, too. Since returning from Luxembourg in May, Hollis-Jefferson has been working out at PCOM with Nerlens Noel, Brandon Davies and a few other invitees at Sixers’ open workouts.
Mix the time in Luxembourg with the two months working out with some of the Sixers, and Hollis-Jefferson has learned that improved offense is the aspect he has to work on the most. He has the aggressiveness on defense, he needs to find it when he has the ball, too.
“[He] showed he belongs here,” Las Vegas summer league coach Chad Iske said.
The goal is to stay, Hollis-Jefferson said.
“I’ve actually been learning a lot more about the game of basketball since I’ve been here,” Hollis-Jefferson said. “That’s what I’m all about. I’m trying to learn and become better in all aspects of the game.
“I’m just trying to stay around here as long as I can.”
Having already been to Luxembourg, where else can he go?