Last call. The party is over.
Put away the champagne bottles, take down the drapers, blow out the candles. There will be no Parrom Party Thursday night.
And that’s a shame.
Kevin Parrom torched the Bears for 25 points, six assists and six rebounds at Haas Pavilion on Feb. 5, 2011, but he won’t be playing Thursday night. Arizona’s junior forward was a ridiculously efficient 9-for-12 from the field in last year’s contest, playing every minute of all three overtimes, including five of his team’s nine points in the decisive third extra period.
Cal fans should be sad he won’t suit up Thursday night. Because you never want to see a kid get hurt, especially not a kid who’s been through as much as Parrom has.
Last summer, Parrom lost his grandmother. On a September trip home to New York to visit his cancer-stricken mother, Parrom was shot twice, once in the leg and once in the hand. Three weeks later, his mother passed away following a battle with the disease that lasted more than two years.
Parrom had to recover physically and mentally. It was not until the last few weeks that he looked like he was finally back in form: nine points, four assists, four rebounds in 23 minutes in last Thursday’s win over Washington State. He was having a big first half on Saturday too. He had already hit two shots and three free throws, pulled down three rebounds, dished out a pair of assists when — crack — there went his season. Parrom broke his right foot and, just as he was truly back, he’s gone, as he’ll miss the remainder of the year.
So Cal fans won’t see Parrom in blue and red Thursday night. Besides his last six months of tragedy, Parrom was, for all intents and purposes, the Wildcats’ last vestige of last year’s epic thriller: the 107-105 triple overtime victory over the Bears.
Harper Kamp, Jorge Gutierrez, Allen Crabbe — they’re still around for Cal. They combined for 85 points that night in Berkeley, a total that the entire team has reached just once at home so far this season. Crabbe played 54 minutes that night; Kamp, the entire game. The trio is still logging major minutes this season.
Arizona, meanwhile, does not look the same at all. Stud forward Derrick Williams moved on to greener pastures, now playing for the Timberwolves. Everyday in the life of Lamont “MoMo” Jones is now spent in the MAAC after the guard transferred to Iona.
Other players from the team remain, but Williams and Jones, along with Parrom, were the force in that contest. Jones and Parrom combined for 52 points, nearly half of Arizona’s total. They were the ones who hit the big shots. Parrom’s 3-pointer with 31 seconds left in regulation enabled Jones to tie the game on the next possession to force overtime and stun the crowd.
Parrom is Elmer’s. He’s the glue. He can make good teams like Arizona great. The 6-foot-6 wing was a super-sub his first two years in Tucson; this season was supposed to be his breakout year.
It’s a familiar narrative for Cal fans. Gutierrez was the squad’s defensive stopper for two seasons until leadership and scoring were thrust upon him as an upperclassman. Now he’s perhaps the leading candidate for Pac-12 Player of the Year.
It seemed apt that Parrom’s recovery process would come full circle Thursday night in Berkeley, where he had his coming-out party last year with career highs across the board. But sometimes lines go askew and life too.
It’s a shame they won’t be guarding each other.