High School Basketball

Secret's out: West Jessamine's Polson is a star

Jarrod Polson of West Jessamine might be the lowest-profile high school basketball star in Kentucky.

Quiet, unassuming and unselfish to a fault, he has done more than enough to be mentioned in the conversation about Mr. Basketball.

Last year Polson capped a terrific junior season by carrying the Colts to the final four of the Sweet Sixteen.

He has followed that up with a standout senior season while leading West Jessamine back to Rupp Arena.

His performance in this year's 12th Region tournament speaks to his talent.

He hit a last-second shot to edge Wayne County in the opener; pumped in 40 points, including 13 of 14 free throws in the fourth quarter, to beat Boyle County in the semifinals; then had 31 points, including two free throws in the closing seconds, to stave off Mercer County in the finals.

"I found myself in awe at how well he was playing," West Jessamine Coach Damon Kelley said.

Polson always shrugs off talk of personal glory, though.

"It's special to have that ability and that humility," Kelley said.

For Polson, the team always comes first.

"Getting to Rupp was our No. 1 goal, and we accomplished that," he said. "I don't care about that other stuff."

West Jessamine will play Muhlenberg County on Thursday in the 93rd PNC/KHSAA Sweet Sixteen.

The Colts are returning to the state tournament despite changing coaches.

After Robert Hammonds guided them to the final four last year, he left to become coach and administrator at Letcher Central.

Kelley, who had been fired at Lafayette, took the reins.

Adjusting to a new system, and a new teammate (Gus Sherrow transferred from Woodford County), the Colts stumbled out of the gate 0-3.

"It was pretty hard at first, learning a new scheme and learning to play with (Sherrow)," Polson said. "But after Christmas everything kept getting better."

The defining moment came in late January when West Jessamine beat state power Jeffersontown 65-60. "That's when we realized we could play with anybody in the state," Polson said.

The Colts go into the Sweet Sixteen having won 17 of their last 19 games.

Polson, along with returning veterans Kyle Mefford, Dylan Pohl, David Elliott and Keston Bartholomew, have meshed well with Sherrow.

Having a more experienced lineup around him has meant Polson hasn't had to shoot as much this season. His scoring average (17.6) is down a couple points from last year, but he's almost doubled his assists (6.5), and has been a strong rebounder (4.8).

For his career, Polson has 1,827 points, 473 assists, 417 rebounds and 192 steals. He's a dead-eye free-throw shooter, making 535 of 687 (78 percent).

Polson shone in Rupp Arena last March. He had 59 points (including 25 of 29 free throws), 17 rebounds and 13 assists in three games.

After last week's region tournament, Georgetown College offered the 6-foot-3 guard a scholarship. Asbury and Transylvania would also love to have him.

Polson was sick last summer and didn't get seen by college coaches, but he could get their attention this week.

"There's no doubt in my mind Jarrod could be a very good player at the mid-major Division I level in the right situation," Kelley said.

Polson's not thinking about college now. He's focused on the Colts making another strong run to the finish line.

"Last year it was unexpected that we got to the semifinals," he said. "This year we have the mind-set that we're going to get far."