The Arizona Wildcats may be without junior wing Kevin Parrom at the start of full basketball practices next week, but coach Sean Miller appears optimistic that the wait won't be too much longer.
Miller matched the upbeat mood at a "Coaches Night Out" fundraising dinner Thursday at UA by saying Parrom has been "doing remarkably well" since being shot above his right knee at his father's Bronx apartment in the early morning hours of Sept. 24.
"He's making slow, steady progress," Miller told the attendees. "At one point he lost all feeling below his right knee and couldn't feel his foot. There was no guarantee it would ever come back. But in two weeks, inch by inch, day by day, he's able to get feeling and movement and we're optimistic that that will continue each week."
Parrom, who had traveled to New York to visit his seriously ill mother, flew back to Tucson less than three days after the shooting and began rehabilitation. However, Miller has been hesitant to issue any formal timetable for Parrom's return, possibly because of uncertainty involved with the gunshot wound.
"We're going to know a lot more in the next two or four" weeks, Miller told the crowd. "But I'm going to tell you I believe he's going to play this year - and that in and of itself will be remarkable."
Parrom returned to New York earlier this week to identify a suspect who has been charged with attempted murder. He also visited his mother once more, but has since returned to Tucson again.
Parrom did not attend Thursday's dinner, which benefited the Arizona Cancer Center, the Steele Children's Research Center and the Active 20-30 Club of Tucson. But the rest of the Wildcats were on hand to make brief appearances along with former Arizona coach Lute Olson and several other current and former Wildcat coaches in an event that also touched heavily on the subject of cancer.
Among other stories, Olson spoke of how his first wife, Bobbi, lived an extra 33 months after her harrowing 1998 near-death experience in Hungary thanks to treatment she received upon returning to Tucson.
"I hope none of you have to find out how good this cancer center is," Olson said.
Thanks to emcee-of-sorts Kyle Fogg, the Wildcats also offered a few words. Fogg "interviewed" his teammates while telling the audience the best decision he ever made in his life was to attend UA, and cautioned the younger Wildcats to enjoy years that will inevitably fly by.
Several players echoed Fogg - literally.
"I'm starting to get tired of going behind Fogg because he always says the right stuff," guard Dondre Wise said jokingly.
Miller then capped the evening off with an optimistic look not only at Parrom but the rest of his team, which is adding a well-regarded freshman class of Josiah Turner, Nick Johnson, Angelo Chol and Sidiki Johnson.
"We have these four talented young freshmen, but believe me when I tell you that as confident as they may have seemed (on the stage), they're not," Miller said. "They haven't gone through things like … (having to) get up early in the morning lifting weights, conditioning, practicing at a fast pace, going to study tables. … These are all things that can humble you in the first three or four months of your career."
Miller also said the early departure of Derrick Williams last spring has the Wildcats "reinventing" themselves, but that the team's core of five seniors is a hungry and experienced group capable of leading the team.
"It's a great challenge but I think you'll find we'll have a team that will be better as our season grows," Miller said. "You'll enjoy watching the four freshmen. All of them will have a role and, in some cases a key role, on this team.
"A year ago we hadn't set a goal other than the process, making sure we were doing the right things every day. If we do that, the results we want have a funny way of coming to us."
• Fresno, Calif., big man Robert Upshaw, a top-40 player in the class of 2012, has eliminated Arizona from his list of potential choices, according to Scout.com. His finalists are now Georgetown, Fresno State, Kansas State and Louisville.
• Miller's wife, Amy, will host a charity "Basketball 101" talk for women on Oct. 13 at Richard Jefferson Gym from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.
On StarNet: Read more about the Cats on Bruce Pascoe's blog at azstarnet.com/pascoe