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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Off to NYC: Red Storm poses first legitimate test for Arizona Wildcats

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Colin Darland
Colin Darland

For most Arizona players, Thursday’s game against St. John’s is their first trip to the basketball mecca of Madison Square Garden.

But for Kevin Parrom, it’s a homecoming that couldn’t have come soon enough. The Bronx native’s last two trips home ended in a gunshot to the leg and his mother’s funeral. This time around, Parrom gets the chance to return to his old stomping grounds on his terms to showcase the progress he’s made since enduring the tragedies.

“That’s his place, that’s where he’s from, that’s where are the people who love him live, so of course he wants to be ready and be at his best when we go back there,” UA head coach Sean Miller said.

The 2K Sports Classic will begin with Texas A&M and Mississippi State at 5 p.m. with the St. John’s and Arizona contest following at 7:30 p.m.

Parrom said that after his mother passed away, his goal was to return to action in time to play in Madison Square Garden in front of family and friends. After the 6-foot-6 swingman scored six points and grabbed four rebounds in 18 minutes against Ball State on Sunday, that goal became a reality.

“I’m still not 100 percent yet, I want to make that clear,” Parrom said, but considering he couldn’t walk just seven weeks ago, the junior forward is looking forward to reminding his New York contingent what he can do on the hardwood.

“It should be a great feeling. I think getting these next two games will be big for our team and big for Kev,” said junior forward Solomon Hill. “I think he looks forward to it more than anybody. I think he’ll love the fact that he’s going home.”

But Arizona’s New York ties don’t end with Parrom. Freshman big man Sidiki Johnson, who has known Parrom since he was 12-years-old, is also from the Bronx.

He went to Wadleigh High School in Harlem, 15 minutes from Madison Square Garden.

Arizona assistant coach Emanuel “Book” Richardson grew up in Queens and coached in the Bronx before joining Miller’s staff at Xavier in 2007. Richardson still has close ties to New York and has become Arizona’s New York recruiting guru, as he landed both Momo Jones and Johnson from the area.

“The fact that Emanuel Richardson’s on our staff, someone who’s meant a lot to the success that we’ve had at Arizona, and also Xavier, it’s nice to bring him home,” Miller said.

So while Arizona’s game against St. John’s is a chance for most Wildcats to get their first taste of Madison Square Garden and a talented team in the Red Storm, Parrom, Johnson and Richardson have other reasons to get excited.

“New York City holds a special place in our program,” Miller said. “They have an opportunity to play in front of family and friends on a magnificent stage. It’s also nice to bring people back to play where they’re from.”

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