Walk on Polson making the most of his time

Jarrod Polson knew from experience what was the best advice he could give Kentucky freshman walk-on players Sam Malone and Brian Long when they got to play in Monday's exhibition game against Morehouse.

Jarrod Polson knew from experience what was the best advice he could give Kentucky freshman walk-on players Sam Malone and Brian Long when they got to play in Monday's exhibition game against Morehouse.

"I told them just to shoot the ball because that's what the crowd wants. I was like, ‘Just shoot it or they will get mad even if you are not open,'" said Polson, a sophomore, after UK's 125-40 win.

Polson often heard the crowd chant "shoot" when he got the ball last season. The former West Jessamine standout often resisted the temptation to shoot, but admits at times he did give in to what the crowd wanted. Monday he took two shots — and hit a 3-pointer that his teammates on the bench celebrated — and also had three assists in 15 minutes.

"Jarrod Polson can play because he doesn't hurt you. He doesn't go in the game like, ‘Watch this, then does something crazy.' He just goes in and runs the team, plays the shooting guard," Kentucky coach John Calipari said. "What position do you want me to play?I'm not going to play the hardest play. Defensively he does it. He's longer than you think. He's 6-3 and he dunks. So he doesn't hurt you."

Calipari's praise fits the way Polson envisions his role on this talented team perfectly.

"That is exactly what I am trying to do. I know if Doron (Lamb) and Marquis (Teague) get in foul trouble at some point that I may be called on to take the one spot. I am not trying to do anything fancy," Polson said. "I just want to keep the score positive when I am in there and keep my focus on the team and play hard defense.

"Just getting in the weight room and working on my speed and stuff is going to help me on bringing the ball up and stuff and getting the offense into motion. It has already helped and hopefully will continue to do that. That's why I am more comfortable when I?play this year. I have been practicing with a lot of people that play a lot. Being on that second group going against that first group every day in practice is huge. If you are going against the first group on our team, then you are going against the best players in the nation. That is helping me every day get more comfortable and making me better."

Malone has learned to respect Polson on and off the court.

"He is a great guy, a really great guy. He has been a great help and really sets the example of what a true walk-on should be even though he's on scholarship now. I have learned a lot from him and he sets the bar high for all of us," Malone said. "He is a better athlete than a lot of people think. He can jump. He works hard in the weight room. And when it comes to basketball, he competes with these guys. He gets us excited about playing. It's fun having him on the team."

That's why Polson had no trouble identifying things the Cats could do better in the weeks ahead.

"Obviously we can get better at a lot of different things. Just stunting and getting back on defense and stuff like that where we keep our intensity up. The better we play on defense, the better we are going to be," Polson said.

Polson can laugh at himself, too. He slipped and said some things Morehouse did would help UK against Kansas, the team plays Tuesday after it open the season against Marist.

Was he already looking ahead to the Kansas game in New York's Madison Square Garden?

"No, no, no, no. We are looking to Marist. We are looking at Marist Friday," he laughed and said.

He can also laugh about being a big hit with many female UK fans, including two girls who had a sign saying they wanted to marry him at Monday's game.

"My coach told me to go over there and talk to them. I think I have seen that girl before," Polson said.

Has he had other marriage proposals since joining the Wildcats?

"I have had a few. Five to 10 maybe," he said.

Several fans on Twitter during and after the game said it was his smile and dimples that made him such a female fan favorite.

"Dimples. Oh, no. I have heard I have dimples. I didn't even know what they were but people say I have them. I figured it out," he said. "I guess it has its perks to be a fan favorite. I guess I?like it."

What he likes better is that Calipari has called him the team's ninth player. Maybe that's not what Terrence Jones or Anthony Davis would want to hear, but for a player like Polson who was told by many that he could never play at UK?it is high praise.

"Being the ninth guy on the University of Kentucky, probably one of the best teams in the nation, that is definitely exciting for me. Knowing that if some people get in foul trouble, he (Calipari) is going to call on me is exciting," Polson said. "I really consider being No. 9 on this team quite a compliment."


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