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The Daily Wildcat

 

Parrom should be exception for NCAA medical hardship

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Colin Darland
Colin Darland

Kevin Parrom isn’t eligible for the NCAA’s medical hardship waiver, which would allow him to redshirt the 2011-12 season.

But if there’s one situation where the NCAA needs to stray from its robotic decision-making and put down the rulebook, it’s this one.

Parrom has played in about 90 percent of the games on Arizona’s schedule, while the NCAA requires less than 30 percent. If his season-ending foot injury were his only obstacle this season, it would be understandable for the NCAA to be set in its ways. Plenty of athletes go down each season with nasty injuries and just pass the 30 percent mark, missing out on that coveted medical redshirt.

Parrom’s hardships lie so much deeper than a bone fracture in his right foot though. The pain, both physical and emotional, that Parrom’s felt over the last six months well outweighs that of a typical foot injury.

Parrom’s endured about as rough of a sixth month stretch as any player in UA basketball history. To lose his grandmother to an illness, get shot at home when visiting his sick mother, then lose her as well is enough to deal with.

Now Parrom’s been stripped of his only outlet. The basketball court was Parrom’s getaway. The reason he didn’t consider redshirting at the start of the season was because he needed basketball to heal.

“I didn’t want to sit out the whole year and think about what happened,” Parrom said a week ago. “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.”

Now Parrom can’t even do that. The junior forward doesn’t want a pity party. He tweeted after Saturday’s game, “Zona zoo there is no time to feel sorry for me or my injury. I really appreciate all the love and support but we still got to win the pac12!”

That’s how Parrom is. He doesn’t want people to feel bad for him and treat him differently. He’s as mentally strong as his New York roots and 6-foot-6, 215-pound frame suggest.

On media day in October, little more than two weeks after he was shot, Parrom limped around Richard Jefferson Gymnasium talking to reporters, still flashing the trademark smile that’s lit up McKale Center for the last three seasons.

Even with a wrap around his left hand and the gunshot wounds on his right leg concealed, Parrom stayed composed. Even as his mother lay in the hospital, days away from losing a long bout with breast cancer, Parrom still found room for hope and positivity.

He wore a pink wristband with bolded white letters that read, “HOPE.” For all that Parrom’s been through, one would hope the NCAA could have a heart and grant him an extra year of eligibility.

“It would be nice if he could just catch a break,” UA head coach Sean Miller said after Saturday’s game.

The NCAA can give him that break. There’s no way to undo the trauma and misfortune he’s endured, but that added year would do wonders for Parrom.

The Tucson community and Arizona basketball are his family. Two more seasons with them would surely help the mental healing process even more.

Then there’s the basketball side. Parrom has a legitimate chance in the NBA. He has great size, can defend, handle the ball and knock down the open three.

If scouts can only draw on next year’s film, however, he most likely won’t hear his name called on draft day.

His basketball future shouldn’t be stripped by events outside of his control. So have a heart, NCAA, because if there’s one person in need of some positive news, it’s Kevin Parrom.

— Mike Schmitz is a marketing senior. He can be reached at sports@wildcat.arizona.edu or on Twitter via @WildcatHoops.

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