LOS ANGELES — Forget wins and losses. The highlight of the Arizona Wildcats’ early season could be — will be? — the moment junior wing Kevin Parrom steps foot on the court.
Coach Sean Miller delivered more encouraging news about Parrom, who was shot last month while home in The Bronx, N.Y., to visit his ailing mother.
“It was five weeks ago to the day that he got shot,” Miller said Friday at Pac-12 Media Day.
“When he got shot, below his right knee didn’t work. He had no feeling, no movement, and there was no guarantee that it would ever come back. Five weeks from Friday, he can run.”
Parrom will begin participating in non-contact portions of practice next week and is pointed toward a return to the court by late November or early December, based on the pace of his progress, Miller said. Conditioning will be an issue initially, but it optimistically looks as if Parrom could be rolling by the time the conference season begins Dec. 31 against visiting Arizona State.
“That’s great for us,” said senior guard Kyle Fogg.
“He has come a long way in a short amount of time. He’s working really hard to get back on the floor with us, and we can’t wait to get him back. … For a guy who has gone through so much stuff, he still has a positive mindset.”
Parrom’s mother died this month, and he was home again this week to attend her funeral. A few months earlier, his grandmother died. He rejoined the team for Thursday night’s exhibition loss to Seattle Pacific.
“Last night, one of the many things that we learned was how important Kevin is to our team,” Miller said.
Parrom, at 6-6 and 215 pounds, is tough, versatile, experienced. The Cats could have used his rebounding and defense, for sure, against Seattle Pacific. He also gives Arizona more size and length on the perimeter, which is always a trait Miller covets.
If Arizona has to slide small forward Solomon Hill to power forward, for example, Parrom would be a similar-sized player to plug in at the 3, as opposed to using Fogg or Brendon Lavender at the position in a small three-guard lineup.
Do you want Parrom crashing the offensive glass from the small forward position, or do you want Fogg to do it? That’s the difference.
Parrom averaged 7.6 points, 3.4 rebounds and 2.0 assists while averaging 20 minutes per game last season.
Earlier this week, Miller said Parrom had been through “so much heartache and tragedy” that it almost wasn’t fair.
Perhaps better days aren’t far away.
“When he came back from New York early this week, he had a different look in his eye,” Miller said. “Almost as if all the bad things are over. And I believe returning to the court is a real significant carrot for him.”
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