UK basketball notebook: Seniors Hood, Polson not ready to get a real job yet

Herald-Leader staff writerApril 26, 2014 

Last week saw many announcements about players' basketball futures. Lost in the annual return-to-Kentucky-or-enter-the-NBA Draft cacophony were what could be described as throwback decisions.

As seniors — seniors? — this past season, Jon Hood and Jarrod Polson used up their college eligibility. Now what? Get a job? Go to graduate school? Try to continue playing basketball ... somewhere?

"Every little kid's dream is to get paid for playing," Hood said.

Hood had a chance to leave UK almost immediately after the season and join a pro team in Australia. He chose to finish work on a second degree (in communications). He already has a degree in community leadership and development. He's weighing offers from teams in four regions of the world: Australia, Europe (Romania), the Caribbean (Dominican Republic) and South America (Uruguay).

Hood hired an agent to help explore and explain the available playing options. Although he had at least three job offers, he wants to play.

As his father, Brian Hood, explained, "Any time you're a player and you get to the end of your career, the hardest thing to do is set it down. It's easy to talk about setting it down. It's hard to actually set it down. Go ask Brett Favre."

Similarly, Polson is finishing up work toward a second degree: first in finance, second in marketing (with a minor in communications). He's also been offered jobs.

His father, George Polson, explained why his son wants to continue playing.

"The thought in your head is what could I have done with extended minutes," the elder Polson said. "You want to try to get that answered before your playing days are over. It's just an itch that hasn't been scratched yet."

So Polson hopes to keep playing, and keep alive what Hood called every little kid's dream.

"Who knows? Maybe he can be the next Jeremy Lin, the kid out of nowhere," George Polson said of his son with a chuckle. "I'm glad at least he's open to pursuing that."

Questions

To those who might fret that Kentucky has too many players next season, Fran Fraschilla offered a telling point.

"It's been proven you don't have to start at Kentucky to end up in the NBA," the ESPN analyst said.

Daniel Orton played sparingly in the 2009-10 season and was a first-round pick in the 2010 NBA Draft. Enes Kanter did not even play. So players don't have to worry about whether coming off the bench might adversely affect draft status.

Fraschilla also dismissed concern about a glut of players hurting UK's team chemistry next season.

"Anybody who thinks the chemistry is not going to be great, I think is going to be proven wrong ultimately," he said. "If there's one thing John (Calipari) knows how to do, it's to push his players' buttons. ... It's options. It's weapons. John's going to have a lot of weapons to play with."

If opposing defenses collapse into the lane to try to blunt UK's size, the onus may shift to perimeter shooting. Will UK have enough capable shooters?

"If Devin Booker gets a lot of playing time, that'll be cleared up," Fraschilla said of the freshman. "He comes in as one of the best shooters in the class of 2014."

Of course, Aaron Harrison is a perimeter shooter, especially with the game on the line.

"He's proven he can make the big shots," Fraschilla said. "Now, can he consistently make 40 percent of his threes?"

Poythress like Patterson?

When wondering if a UK player might get lost in the shuffle next season, attention shifts to Alex Poythress. UK's front line seems abundantly stocked. "I think every big guy is going to be playing in the NBA someday," said ESPN analyst Fran Fraschilla.

On the perimeter, Aaron and Andrew Harrison surely will return as starters. That leaves one opening in the lineup.

"No pure small forward type," Fraschilla said before adding, "I know Poythress can play there."

To maximize his potential playing time, Poythress should follow the example of Patrick Patterson circa 2009-10, Fraschilla said. Patterson returned to UK as a junior in order to gain experience as a face-the-basket player who can make 15-foot jump shots.

"If I was Alex, I'd model my junior year after Patrick Patterson," Fraschilla said.

Smells like team spirit

This time last year, Katie Masich had a problem to solve. She wanted to, in a sense, bottle UK's athletic teams.

"If you could capture that blue and white," she said last week, "what would that smell like?"

There's a straight line if I ever heard one.

But, we proceed (and hope to succeed).

Masich decided to go with a hint of blue geranium and vanilla orchid. There's also sandalwood and wild jasmine in her distillation of UK's athletic teams.

Her company, Masik Collegiate Fragrances (she went with the phonetic spelling of her name for the company), offers perfumes and colognes that she hopes evoke the athletic scents of 20 colleges. Her company targets schools with large alumni populations and/or marquee brands.

Masich just launched perfumes and colognes tied to Arkansas and Texas. Syracuse is next up.

Before the launch of Kentucky last fall, Masich received approval from UK Athletics, which had some of its employees take a whiff. The fragrance she created literally and figuratively passed the smell test.

Schools typically receive 10 percent of the proceeds, which become part of scholarship funds.

Masich, who grew up in Harrisburg, Pa., came to the fragrance business in a roundabout way. After receiving a degree in chemical engineering from Bucknell, she worked for Exxon Mobil for seven-plus years before deciding to launch a fragrance business in 2008.

More information on the perfumes/colognes for UK and other schools is at the company website, masik.com.

Preseason ranking

Almost immediately after the Final Four, Gary Parrish of CBSSports.com went on the fast break in compiling a preseason top 25 going into 2014-15. His top 10 was:

10. Louisville. 9. Texas. 8. Wichita State. 7. North Carolina. 6. Florida. 5. Kentucky. 4. Kansas. 3. Wisconsin. 2. Arizona. 1. Duke.

By the way, Parrish noted ex-Cat Kyle Wiltjer as a newcomer for No. 16 Gonzaga.

Since Parrish posted a preseason top 10, Willie Cauley-Stein, Alex Poythress and Dakari Johnson announced they were returning to UK next season. Parrish reconsidered.

"Kentucky is, at this point, I think, a preseason top-five team regardless of what the Harrisons do because the frontcourt is loaded — arguably the most loaded in recent college basketball history," Parrish wrote in an email Thursday. "But if the Harrisons return? Watch out. Then I think the Wildcats will again be the preseason No. 1 team, and deservedly so."

Of course, Aaron and Andrew Harrison announced Friday that they will return to UK next season.

High standard

Former Kentucky star Julius Randle was named after Hall of Famer Julius Erving.

"We went through a lot of names," his mother, Carolyn Kyles, said. "Julius was just the name that fit, and, yes, it was after Julius Erving."

Erving set a high standard for his namesake. In two college seasons for UMass, he averaged 32.5 points and 20.2 rebounds. He became one of only five players to average more than 20 points and 20 rebounds per game.

Erving joined the American Basketball Association in 1971 as an undrafted free agent. Dubbed "Doctor J," he bridged the gap between Elgin Baylor and Michael Jordan as the NBA's iconic high-flying player.

Having left college early to pursue a professional career, Erving returned to school to earn a degree in creative leadership and administration in 1986. That fulfilled a promise he had made to his mother.

Colbert rapport

Wisely playing along, John Calipari seemed to enjoy his six-minute appearance on the The Colbert Report last week. In case you missed the funny give (by host Stephen Colbert) and take (by Calipari), here are a few highlights:

■ At the beginning of the show, Colbert announced a "new benefit" for college athletes. "For one day only, we're putting an 'i' in team," he said.

■ In introducing Calipari, Colbert said, "I'll interview him for one minute, then go pro."

■ In noting Calipari's signature reliance on freshmen, Colbert said, "What does that mean, 'one-and-done?' And can that be cured with Viagra?"

■ When Calipari noted his dislike of the term "one-and-done" and his proposed substitute, "succeed-and-proceed," Colbert said, "It also rhymes, so it must be true." Calipari said he'd like to see a rule requiring players to stay in college at least two years, which led Colbert to offer a new label: "Two and toot-a-loo."

■ In his role as a conservative pundit, Colbert speaks of labor unions as bogeymen. So, naturally, he opposed the possible unionization of Northwestern football players. "What idiot taught them to work together toward a common goal?" he asked.

Like Anthony Davis?

Wisconsin center Frank Kaminsky's high school coach likened him to former Kentucky All-American Anthony Davis. Sort of.

"Their games are relatively similar," Gene Heidkamp said before quickly adding, "I don't mean to put Frank in Anthony's class. But they can handle the ball and play with unique skills for big guys."

Both natives of the Chicago area, Kaminsky and Davis were in the same high school class of 2011. They played against each other in summer leagues. They share the ability to be effective around the basket and on the perimeter.

Height runs in Kaminsky's family. His father, also named Frank, is 6-foot-11. He played well enough for Division II Lewis University to be inducted into the Division II school's athletics Hall of Fame. Kaminsky's mother, Mary, played volleyball for Northwestern.

Aside from sharing the benefit of height, Kaminsky bore little resemblance to Davis. Kaminsky announced Friday that he will return to Wisconsin next season.

Happy birthday

To Todd Bearup. He turned 47 on Friday. ... To Father Ed Bradley. He turned 71 on Thursday. ... To David Hobbs. He turned 65 on Friday. ... To Dwight Anderson. He turns 54 on Monday. ... To LeRon Ellis. He turns 45 on Monday. ... To Chris Harrison. He turns 41 on Wednesday.

Jerry Tipton: (859) 231-3227. Email: jtipton@herald-leader.com. Twitter: @JerryTipton. Blog: ukbasketball.bloginky.com.

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