Pick a reason to be bullish about Arizona: If you're a recruitnik, it's because the Wildcats added a trio of five-star big men (Kaleb Tarczewski, Brandon Ashley and Grant Jerrett). If you track transfers, it's because they landed senior Mark Lyons from Xavier to fill their void at point guard. If you recall not only how promising swingman Kevin Parrom looked in 2010--11, when Arizona went 30--8 and reached the Elite Eight, but also the cruel tragedies and injuries that spoiled his following season, you like Arizona because Parrom can finally say, "I'm getting back to my normal self."
As a sophomore Parrom scored with nearly the same efficiency (a 122.5 ORating) as Derrick Williams (the No. 2 pick in the 2011 draft), and he was expected to have a breakout junior season. But in a three-month span last year, Parrom's grandmother died from cancer; he was shot in the right leg and left hand while in New York City to visit his terminally ill mother, Lisa Williams; and on Oct. 16, Williams passed away from cancer as well. Even though he wasn't back to full health, Parrom insisted on rejoining the team in mid-November, but his shooting plummeted from 50.8% to 40.2%, and he suffered a season-ending broken right foot on Jan. 28.
Physically, Parrom would have been better off redshirting, but mentally he needed to play. Coach Sean Miller says that from talking to Kevin and his father, Kenny, "we felt like taking the team—and the carrot of playing in front of people—away from him could have really broken his spirit."
Parrom averaged 18.5 points during the Wildcats' August exhibition tour of the Bahamas, where Miller says he saw "the true Kevin." This year Parrom could serve as a valuable sixth man in the mold of Darius Miller, who keyed Kentucky's 2012 title run before becoming a second-round draft pick. That sort of season would do even more wonders for Parrom's spirit.
ROUND OF 32
ROUND OF 64
Projected Starting Five
COACH Sean Miller (4th season)
2011--12 RECORD 23--12
PAC-12 12--6 (4th)
WHAT'S BACK Minutes: 47.9% Points: 45.6% Rebounds: 46.2%
‚Ä†High school stats
3 NATIONAL ranking of Arizona's 2012 recruiting class, making it the highest rated of Sean Miller's career. Kaleb Tarczewski, who was ineligible for the McDonald's All-American game as a fifth-year senior, is the top prospect.
CHRIS WILLIAMS/ICON SMI
KEVIN PARROM A dismal stretch—two deaths, a shooting and an injury—has the senior swingman eager to make up for lost time.