Four-time All-SEC Academic Team member Jarrod Polson will join fellow University of Kentucky alum Jeff Sheppard for the final UNITE Shoot Hoops Not Drugs basketball camp in Harlan County on Thursday.
“We are excited to have a player of Jarrod Polston’s character to join Jeff Sheppard for our Shoot Hoops Not Drugs camp,” said Dan Smoot, UNITE president/CEO. “His attitude toward the game and focus on making the right choices fit well with the purpose of camp.”
This is the eighth season for the free camps, which combine basketball skills instruction with anti-drug and self-esteem messages.
The Harlan camp begins at 4 p.m. at Harlan County High School. Any school-age youth is welcome to participate.
A native of Wilmore, Polson set the Kentucky High School Athletic Association (KHSAA) record for free throws attempted and made in a January 2009 game in which he tallied 50 points. As a high school senior, Polson led West Jessamine to the second round of the Sweet 16 state tournament and was named first team all-state.
Polson’s father is originally from Cumberland, and he has several family members still living in Harlan County.
Originally a walk-on at the University of Kentucky, the 6-foot, 2-inch point guard quickly impressed UK head coach John Calipari, who gave him a full scholarship before his freshman year had begun.
Polson received only limited playing time during his first two seasons with the Wildcats (which included a NCAA national championship his sophomore year).
Things changed after Calipari inserted him in for an ailing teammate during the 2012013 season-opening game against Maryland. A 10-point performance, key steal, and clutch free throws in the waning minutes earned him accolades and solidified his spot in the rotation.
He played in all 33 games as a junior, including three double-figure scoring efforts and averaging 13.8 minutes a game.
Polson continued to provide key playing time during his final season, including nailing a crowd-pleasing three-pointer during 19 minutes of action on senior night.
Over his four years with UK, Polson played in 94 games, scoring a total of 140 points with a .424 field goal percentage (.313 3-point percentage).
This past spring, the Colts retired Polson’s jersey – the first time that distinction had been awarded in school history.
Presented by Ameritox, Shoot Hoops Not Drugs camps are fun, interactive and provide a safe, drug-free activity where children have an opportunity to interact with positive role models while learning fundamental basketball skills.
In addition, parents and guardians will have an opportunity to attend a brief UNITE Foundation-sponsored education program on the emerging heroin problem. Information on the signs, symptoms and dangers posed by prescription drugs will also be provided.
As a senior at the University of Kentucky, Sheppard was named the NCAA’s Final Four Most Valuable Player in the Wildcats’ 1997-98 national championship season. He would later go on to play one season with the NBA’s Atlanta Hawks and three years in Italy.
Helping make the 2014 Shoot Hoops Not Drugs camps possible are the Cumberland Gap Mountain Spring Water (Middlesboro), UPS Foundation, Walmart (Louisa), Kentucky Army National Guard, Laurel Grocery (London), Flowers Bakery (London), Chad’s Hope Teen Challenge Center (Manchester), Appalachian Wireless (Ivel), Farm Credit Mid-America (London), First Federal Savings and Loan Association (Hazard), Minuteman Press (London), Tim Short Auto Group (London and Manchester), WestCare Hal Rogers Appalachian Recovery Center (Ashcamp) and Ronald C. Cox Attorney At Law (Harlan).
For more information about Operation UNITE, visit its Web site at www.operationunite.org.