If there is anyone in college basketball that deserves your support heading into the 2012-2013 season more than Arizona’s Kevin Parrom, I’ve never heard of them.
No one — save maybe Thomas Robinson — has had a more difficult year to deal with that Parrom. His grandmother passed away during the summer of 2011. Her death came while Parrom’s mother was battling cancer. One weekend last September (just about a year ago to the day), while back at his home in New York City, Parrom was shot twice — in the hand and in the leg — when two attackers broke into his house. The injuries from the shooting kept him out of action for a couple of months.
Three weeks after he was shot, Parrom’s mother succumbed to the cancer. Parrom persevered, however, recovering from the grief and the injury and being the victim of an attempted murder to make it back on the court for his junior year. But in January, after putting together some of his best basketball of the season, Parrom broke his foot, ending his season.
There was some speculation of whether or not Parrom should even play last year given what he had been through, but Sean Miller decided against redshirting him. One of the reasons given was to try and avoid the idle-mind that comes with sitting out a year of basketball. Basketball was therapy, he told Bruce Pascoe of the Arizona Daily Star.
After the injury, Parrom didn’t have a choice.
The good news is that, physically, he’s healthy. But more importantly, as Pascoe notes in the terrific column linked above, he appears to be mentally healthy as well:
After the season ended, Parrom kept healing. He says he’s “way better” now than a year ago, both mentally and physically. The foot numbness and knee issues, he says, are fully healed and his mental strength improved by staying busy all summer long.
Parrom said he completed a goal of taking 20,000 game-style shots in addition to UA’s regular workouts, and also put on strength. He said he’s 215 pounds now, the same as he was listed at last season, but with a leaner 6-foot-6-inch frame.
In addition, Parrom said he took classes in every UA summer session, putting him on track to graduate in May, although he has an outside shot to be granted a fifth season of eligibility in 2013-14 (UA may appeal for a waiver next year, though Parrom does not qualify under the usual medical redshirt standards because he has played in too many games.)
The proof of all this healing was evident when Parrom played well leading up to and during the Wildcats’ exhibition games in the Bahamas last month, averaging 18.5 points while making 65 percent of his shots.
Parrom will be a key fixture in the Arizona lineup next season. The Wildcats are going to be quite talented, as Miller once again brings in a loaded recruiting class. They have size up front and some athletic scorers in the back court. What Arizona is going to need next season is playmaking. They need Mark Lyons, who is a friend of Parrom’s from back east, to become a facilitator, something that he hasn’t done since high school.
Parrom has a reputation for being a versatile wing, the kind of guy that can do a little bit of everything on the floor. Hopefully, Miller won’t need Parrom to slide over and play the point for extended periods of time, because that would not be a good thing for the Wildcats. But if he is able to chip in with three assists a game, taking some of the pressure off of Lyons, it will make Arizona a much better and more balanced team.
But that’s secondary to the real story here.
Parrom made it through one of the darkest periods that someone can go through, and he came out stronger on the other side.
Even Pac-12 rivals owe this kid a welcoming ovation.
Rob Dauster is the editor of the college basketball website Ballin’ is a Habit. You can find him on twitter @robdauster.