UA BASKETBALL

Arizona basketball: One emotional year later, Parrom is 'way better'

2012-09-23T00:00:00Z 2014-07-25T12:07:13Z Arizona basketball: One emotional year later, Parrom is 'way better'Bruce Pascoe Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
September 23, 2012 12:00 am  • 

Kevin Parrom still hears her voice, in nighttime dreams or at a critical time of the day. He can't always make out the exact words, but the message is clear enough.

His mother, Lisa Williams, is telling the Arizona Wildcats senior basketball player to keep his head up. No matter what is going on.

Parrom hears it, even though Lisa died of cancer nearly a year ago - another low point in an unimaginable 2011-12 season when Parrom's grandmother passed away from cancer, he was shot in the right leg and, just when the wing started playing well in midseason, he broke his right foot.

"It's all positive and not negative," Parrom said. "I can't really pinpoint what she said, but it's little motivational speeches.

"If I'm not having a good day, at the end of the night, I'll hear her voice saying: 'Kev, you got another day. Let's be better tomorrow than we were today.' Little stuff like that."

This weekend, the messages might help more than ever. It was a year ago this weekend that Parrom, after the gravely ill Lisa asked him to return home for a final goodbye, flew to New York, spent a day with her in the hospital - and was shot later that night when, police said, two men entered the apartment of Parrom's father in the Bronx and pursued him.

A suspect in the shooting, Jason Gonzalez, was charged with attempted murder in Bronx Supreme Court and remains jailed, but Parrom says he isn't following the still-pending case. He just knows that Sept. 24 was the day he suddenly couldn't feel his right leg, and began a 48-hour stay in a Bronx hospital.

"I thought about it (Thursday) night and, man, it's been a year," Parrom said. "The 24th makes it a year. I think last week, a year ago, was when my mom called me to get me to come home."

Parrom has not been back to his native New York since the Wildcats played in the 2K Sports Classic in November at Madison Square Garden. That event, played just a month after Lisa died and seven weeks after Parrom was shot, was almost too close to the "incidents," as Parrom refers to them, to provide much healing even with friends and family surrounding him.

"It was intense back then," Parrom said. "It was still a fresh memory back then, so nobody wanted to talk about it, but they knew I was all business to try to win games and play as good as I could at the time. So they didn't bring it up, but they were still comforting me through that time, and I appreciate it."

Since then, Parrom says he relies on friends and family in New York to simply call or Skype him, instead of "wasting time" by making a trip home when there has been so much work to do in Tucson.

Not only has Parrom had the gunshot wound to fully recover from but also the broken foot, which Parrom said he believes was "related" to the shooting because he still had slight numbness in parts of his right foot into last season that may have kept him unaware of any impending issues.

Parrom had another reason not to know something was up: He was playing well at the time. Parrom had three strong games in a row - at Utah, at Colorado and against Washington State - before he went down against Washington on Jan. 28. And before he was hurt in that game, Parrom had seven points, three rebounds and two assists in just 10 minutes.

But his season ended abruptly against the Huskies. Parrom wound up playing in just 20 games last season, averaging 4.9 points and 2.9 rebounds while hitting 33 percent of his three-point shots.

The numbers were markedly off from Parrom's sophomore season in 2010-11. But for him, it never really was all about production.

It was about getting better, on the outside and inside. Saying there is "no playbook" for dealing with what Parrom went through, UA coach Sean Miller wrestled with the decision of whether to play him at less than full strength or saddle him with the uncomfortably empty time that would accompany a redshirt season.

Parrom wouldn't have it any other way. For him, basketball was therapy.

"I wanted to play regardless," Parrom said. "Whatever the results were, I didn't care. I just wanted to go out there and play. With my mom and grandmother, if you take away the death of one of them, maybe I'd be able to redshirt, but both of those things happen? I don't think anybody could sit out."

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.

The trip "was more valuable for him than anybody on our team because of what he went through a year ago," Miller said. "If he had any doubt in his mind, he answered that."

Parrom said he enjoyed the Bahamas because it gave him a chance to bond with teammates, including old friend and new roommate Mark Lyons, and get a break from his Tucson routine.

Most of the summer, Parrom's routine was purposefully draining. He worked out on the court, in the weight room and in the classroom from Monday to Friday, then spent the weekend recovering.

There was little time for negative thoughts.

"Last year I was more trying to erase the memories, but now I've adjusted to it, and I've learned how to use it as motivation," Parrom said. "It's nothing negative when I think about the incidents. It's more, when I think about it, what can I do to get it out of my mind?

"I go to the gym, get some shots up or go over some notes from school. Stay active. Anything. So I don't use it as a negative. I use it as positive."

The way Lisa would want him to.

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Pac-12 basketball standings

  Conference Overall
Team W L T PCT W L T PCT
Arizona 0 0 0 0.000 0 0 0 0.000
Arizona State 0 0 0 0.000 0 0 0 0.000
California 0 0 0 0.000 0 0 0 0.000
Colorado 0 0 0 0.000 0 0 0 0.000
Oregon 0 0 0 0.000 0 0 0 0.000
Oregon State 0 0 0 0.000 0 0 0 0.000
Stanford 0 0 0 0.000 0 0 0 0.000
UCLA 0 0 0 0.000 0 0 0 0.000
USC 0 0 0 0.000 0 0 0 0.000
Utah 0 0 0 0.000 0 0 0 0.000
Washington 0 0 0 0.000 0 0 0 0.000
Washington State 0 0 0 0.000 0 0 0 0.000

AP Top 25


Pac-12 basketball schedule

Teams Date Time
Cal Poly Pomona at
Stanford
11/6 8:00 pm
Azusa Pacific at
Washington State
11/7 12:00 am
Cal Poly Pomona at
Arizona
11/9 4:00 pm
Mount St. Mary's at
Arizona
11/14 6:00 pm
Coppin State at
Oregon
11/14 10:00 pm
Detroit at
Oregon
11/17 9:00 pm
Cal-Irvine at
Arizona
11/19 7:00 pm
Oral Roberts at
Oregon State
11/21 7:00 pm
Texas-Pan American at
Utah
11/26 6:00 pm
Northern Colorado at
Colorado
12/13 4:00 pm
Washington State at
Santa Clara
12/13 8:00 pm
Grambling at
Oregon State
12/15 8:00 pm
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