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By LARRY VAUGHT
Kentucky junior guard Jarrod Polson has played in 28 games the last two seasons at UK and got into his first NCAA Tournament game last season. Still, he’s got off just nine shots in the 28 games, a far cry from the type of offensive exploits he was used to during his high school career at West Jesssamine when he averaged 18.2 points, 6.4 assists and 4.9 rebounds per game as a senior and helped the Colts win a state tournament game. He finished his high school career with 1,884 points.
“I think sometimes it is easier for players inside the program to understand what is going on with playing time than maybe it is for parents, family members, friends and fans,” said Polson, who came to UK as a walk-on player and is now on scholarship. “It is definitely easier for the players to understand than the parents. But this is a great place to be.”
Polson shared a variety of thoughts on playing at UK during this recent interview.
Question: Could this team be really good again?
Polson: “Definitely. The four freshmen that have come in have surprised a lot of people, even Coach. They are all four good at their own things. They are also one good collective group. Then we have Julius (Mays) who is coming in and is a great shooter, mature guy. Kyle (Wiltjer) is coming back. I definitely think we can be just as good as last year if we want to work hard and I think we have players that will do that.”
Question: Would Mays be able to outshoot Doron Lamb, UK’s two guard the last two years?
Polson: “I think so. He actually kind of reminds me of Lamb. He is shorter than Doron, but he plays scarily similar to Doron. He just knows how to play the game and get his shots and when he gets his shots, they are going in. He is definitely a good player for us.”
Question: How would you describe Willie Cauley-Stein?
Polson: “He is just the tall goofball. He is in his little swag and thinks he has a bunch of swag, but I don’t think so. He is really funny. He has his own goofy personality and is really cool. He has got swag swagger. I don’t know if he’s a nerd exactly, but he has those glasses he wears a lot and thinks they are cool. Half nerd, half swag. Now he is a really good player. He wasn’t ranked as high as the other players coming in, but he is right there with them so far. This summer I think he might be the most improved player. That is just me talking. His post game has gotten so much better. He could never use his left hand before, but now he is doing left hand jump hooks. He is probably one of the fastest guys on the team, which is unheard of for a center. He runs like a gazelle. He is definitely going to be fun to watch this year.”
Question: Considering centers are supposed to be so hard to recruit, what has it been like to be teammates with Demarcus Cousins, Daniel Orton, Josh Harrellson and Enes Kanter and now Nerlens Noel and Willie Cauley-Stein?
Polson: “It is obviously hard to find a good big guy coming out of high school, so playing with all those guys has really been fun. When you add their length and athleticism, it makes it way easier for the guards. They are always there. You can just throw it up and they are going to go get it. It is fun for us to play with them.”
Question: What is it like for you with fans when you get a chance to go home to Nicholasville?
Polson: “When I go home, I usually just stay in the house or stay around. I got a chance to be the grand marshall at the Jessamine County Jamboree parade. That was kind of cool and people recognized me. I think I am well known around the community, so that’s good. I like being that way and being the Kentucky guy because everybody in my community loves Kentucky basketball, so that is fun.”
Question: Will you be a Kentuckian for life?
Polson: “I probably think I will stay in Kentucky. Obviously, I don’t know where I will be in five years from now, but I am a Kentucky boy.”
Question: Since you are a business major, do you realize the worth of being a UK basketball player in this state when it comes time to join the work force?
Polson: “That’s a big perk for being here. I definitely think that will help me with getting a job in the business world when I am older, especially if I stay in Kentucky.”