Early this week, West Jessamine Coach Damon Kelley told his star guard that the University of Kentucky might soon express a recruiting interest.
"At first, I thought he was kidding," Jarrod Polson said Wednesday.
Then Polson learned that Kentucky's Mr. Basketball, Elisha Justice of state champion Shelby Valley, had turned down a chance at possibly joining the UK team.
"Then I thought, maybe," Polson said.
"Maybe" gained plausibility when UK assistant coach Orlando Antigua called Tuesday night and invited Polson to play pickup games with several Wildcats. Those games are scheduled to be played on Thursday, after which the UK coaches are supposed to decide if Polson can walk on next season or perhaps be worthy of consideration for a scholarship. Polson's previous recruiting picture involved Cedarville University, a "Christ-centered" Baptist-affiliated NAIA school in southwestern Ohio.
While Justice did not let Kentucky's 11th-hour interest move him off a commitment to Louisville, Polson sounded emotionally swept away by UK's interest.
"I was ecstatic," he said. "Just playing with them in general is pretty awesome. It's a crazy feeling."
Unlike Justice, Polson sounded willing to accept any terms from the UK coaches. "I don't think I can turn down being a walk-on or a scholarship player," he said.
Polson was not sure which UK players might be involved in the pickup games. "I'm hoping it's all of them," he said.
Polson averaged 18.2 points, 6.4 assists and 4.9 rebounds this past season. He scored 25 and 32 points in West Jessamine's two games in the Sweet Sixteen. In the region tournament, he scored 40 of the team's 60 points in the semifinals and 31 of the 51 in the finals.
"I think he is as good as anybody in the state this year," Kelley said. "... I don't think anybody in the state could guard him one-on-one. Often, teams would double-team him 75 feet from the basket just to make him give up the ball.
"He's a 6-2 point guard who jumped center for us, if you want to know about his athleticism."
Kelley cited questions about Polson's size and athleticism as reasons the player did not draw much recruiting interest from Division I schools. Polson had been listed at 5-10 and 150 pounds as a junior, which was his size going into his sophomore year, the coach said.
Polson also did not play in the summer AAU circuit, where college coaches can form opinions about players, the coach said.
The player's father, George Polson, described his son as a Kentucky fan.
"Just like any blue-blooded Kentucky player, he's very excited about the opportunity," the elder Polson said. "It's a lifelong dream, obviously, being a Kentucky boy."
As Kelley noted, a UK-Polson connection would help the program, too.
"You're not going to find a better player, a better kid or a better student," said the West Jessamine coach, who added that Polson had a 4.3 grade-point average and scored a 28 on his American College Test. "Whatever program ends up with him, he'll represent them well."