It’s that time of the year, the period of the season when we dip our toes into the murky recruiting waters and pretend to like it. Although we would never bother with speculation and trivial recruiting discussions regarding prep players that have no business at a school like Dayton (ahem, Luke Kennard, ahem), that’s strictly for dupes who don’t mind parting with $9.99 every month, there is never any harm in briefly focusing on actual confirmed newcomers.
Kendall Pollard fits that mold. The 6’5”/200 pound (wink!) wing from Chicago signed with UD back in December, a decision that ultimately came down to either the Flyers or Rhode Island. Pollard suited up for Simeon, one of the nation’s best basketball high-school programs this past season, a squad which featured the nation’s most hyped recruit, Jabari Parker. The Wolverines won their fourth consecutive state title last month, and Pollard was a major component of the team’s success.
Pollard seems like a garbage man, one who is improving his offensive skill set and acutely realizes his lack of athleticism limits the type of things he can do on the court. However, this doesn’t mean he can’t be a significant contributor at a mid-major program like Dayton.
While working on developing a consistent jump shot, Pollard’s ability to get to the basket and finish has helped him average 8.8 points per game this season. His long arms, toughness and capacity to guard multiple positions typically mean he takes on defending an opponent’s best player.
“I take pride playing defense because it’s what keeps me on the floor,” he said. “You might be faster than me, but I’m long, so I can keep you in front of me at all times. When you shoot, I can block you. And I can steal it on a crossover.”
If there was one thing missing on Dayton’s club this season it was a tough defensive mindset. Pollard, at the very least, seems content on not being a liability on that side of the floor.
What about his teammates, how would they describe Pollard’s game?
“He’s aggressive, like a Dennis Rodman,” Simeon junior Saieed Ivey said. “He’s a cleanup man. He’s going to go get the blocks. He’s going to talk on defense. He’s going to guard the best player. … You don’t ever have to worry about Kendall playing hard.”
Pollard is a tough, physical defender with better athleticism than people realize. The Hoops Report has referred to Pollard as the Ron Artest of prep hoops in Illinois. He will do whatever it takes to help his team win, whether it’s in the stat sheet or not.
Dennis Rodman? Ron Artest? I really, really, like the sound of that. UD needs an agitator, maybe this is our guy. The type of guy that will take his shoes off after a bogus foul call.
A quick Lycos image search on Pollard reveals what may be best described as a “stout” body type. He is generously listed at 200 pounds, and admits that weight has been an issue since he was a youngster:
Pollard smiled and separated his hands horizontally when remembering himself as a “heavyset” child who played center on his early basketball teams at St. Margaret of Scotland in Chicago. He was bigger than nearly all of the other children from the time he was a baby until his growth accelerated in the seventh grade, his mother said.
Even now Pollard worries about his weight perhaps more than a typical teenage boy. He stopped drinking pop this month and is trying to cut back on bread, though he finds it difficult during school and team-provided meals. His mother wants him to cut back on juice and add more vegetables.
“So I can stay in shape now, and when I get to Dayton I can keep up with the rest of those guys,” Pollard said of his diet. “Because I know they’re down there eating healthy and they’re hitting the weights as well.”
Matt Derenbecker is on a strict liquid diet, Kendall. That’s how much he cares about this team. 12-ounce curls will do your body some good. Get in touch with him as soon as you get on campus.
Tom Blackburn is a proud U. o' D. alum. He loses faith in humanity one day at a time, but not in you, you seem like you are all kinds of alright. Charter member of the T-Man fanclub.