Seven weeks after he was shot in the leg and hand, Kevin Parrom rejoined the Arizona Wildcats in mid-November. In one sense, that's when his rehabilitation really began.

Although UA coach Sean Miller questioned in hindsight last week whether Parrom would have been better off taking a redshirt year, with the junior having largely leveled off since his emotional return against Ball State on Nov. 13, Parrom said he never considered it.

He was healed just enough to play. But he needed to play to keep healing.

"I could have done it to be safe, but I didn't want to sit out the whole year and think about what happened," said Parrom, who also lost his mother and grandmother to cancer last year. "In order to recover, I also had to recover mentally. People don't understand that.

"In order to recover mentally, I wanted to play basketball. … I needed to play this year, whether it was good or bad."

Fortunately for the Wildcats, it may be good after all. Or at least better.

Parrom averaged 9.0 points and 4.5 rebounds, shooting 7 from 15 from the field, during Arizona's trip to Utah and Colorado last week. As a result, Miller said he wants to expand the forward's role this weekend, though Parrom will still come off the bench.

"If he can contribute at the level he contributed on this last trip, we're going to be a much better team because we haven't had him in that role at all," Miller said.

Parrom said Miller's "redshirt" comment motivated him a little bit last week. "Redshirting was never in my mind," Parrom said. "I think it was in the staff's mind, just in case, but in my mind I knew I wanted to play, and I knew it would be good for me.

"I didn't want to sit out and think about what happened to my mother and my grandmother. I didn't want to think about it the whole year. I just felt like playing would be the best thing for me."

But when he came back there were immediate demands on him, thanks to UA's lack of size upfront: The 6-foot-6-inch, 215-pound Parrom was needed at both power and small forward spots this season.

"That's one of the things that's been hard," Miller said. "When you have a player like Kevin, it's difficult to prompt him to do more because he's gone through a lot of things physically and mentally. But we always hope that maybe that light will turn on and he will really settle in and find himself."

Parrom shared small forward with Solomon Hill last season, and Jesse Perry and Jamelle Horne split up power forward duties, but Miller has moved Perry to center and Hill to power forward out of necessity.

That means Parrom will sometimes play power forward while Hill rests, though Miller prefers him at small forward.

"When he's at the three, he really makes our team bigger," Miller said. There are "Jesse and Solomon, and now you've got three guys rebounding instead of two."

By hitting 3 of 5 three-point attempts at Utah last Thursday, Parrom also showed a glimpse of the three-point threat he added last season. Parrom was actually the Wildcats' No. 2 three-point shooter (47.8 percent) in conference games last season, behind only Derrick Williams, but he's made only 30 percent in all games this season.

In conference play, Parrom is averaging 4.3 points, 3.0 rebounds and now 33.3 percent shooting from three-point range.

It's "just confidence," he said, "just coming in not thinking so much, not worried about, 'Am I going to play good tonight or play bad?'"

Physically, Parrom is improving, too. Miller said in early December that Parrom was only about 80 percent healed, but Parrom said Tuesday he feels about "97 to 98 percent" normal.

"I feel great," Parrom said. "I think in New York (at the 2K Sports Classic in November), it was my legs. I didn't have much power in my legs and that took some time, but I think it's really coming back. It started in practice and it's starting to show in the game now.

"The next phase is the jump shot."

However, Parrom was stuck taking the kind of jump shot you don't easily forget last weekend: a three-pointer from the corner in the final second that missed wildly, preserving Colorado's 64-63 win.

"We drew up a play and obviously it didn't work," Parrom said. "I think Kyle (Fogg) kicked it back to me. I wasn't ready for it. I thought he was going to drive because we down one, so I wasn't expecting it. I shoulda been ready, but I didn't have my feet set and kind of threw up an air ball.

"Next time, I'll be ready."

Miller indicated it wasn't all Parrom's fault.

"I don't know how good of a look that was," Miller said. "We could have had a better shot, but at the end of games sometimes that's the shot that you get. Maybe if we had shot it a little earlier we'd have a chance for an offensive rebound, but it was more of a circumstance.

"Kevin had what I thought was a strong drive baseline, he found Kyle, and Kyle got into the paint, then kicked it back to Kevin and he missed the shot."

But there was one good thing about the shot for Parrom: He was on the floor, playing a key role again.

He was healing.

"Mentally, it's much better than it was a couple of months ago," Parrom said. "I'm starting to accept that everything's happening for a reason and I'm just moving on from it."

Wildcats gear up for new uniforms from Nike, may wear them only once

Nike will announce changes to the Arizona Wildcats' men's basketball uniform today.

How much of a change - and whether it's permanent - is up for debate.

At 7:45 a.m. today, the shoe giant will announce new Hyper Elite Platinum uniforms for every men's and women's team that has won a basketball championship in Nike gear.

The Wildcats "are receiving new gear," said an email, from Michael O'Donnell, whose public relations firm Cohn & Wolfe is organizing press for this morning's Nike uniform release webcast.

UA spokesman Richard Paige said the Wildcats will wear their regular uniforms - unveiled about a year ago - this week against Washington State and Washington.

There is precedent for the announcement to unveil one-time-only uniforms.

In September, Nike held a webcast to announce "Pro Combat" football uniforms for select college teams, which were intended to be worn once.

Patrick Finley

Up next

• What: Washington State at Arizona

• When: 8:30 p.m. Thursday

• TV; radio: FSAZ; 1290-AM, 107.5-FM, 990-AM (Sp)