After Arizona wrapped up its two-game exhibition slate Tuesday, Kevin Parrom wanted to let the Tucson media and public know "for the 100th time" that he is 100 percent and ready to play basketball.
All anybody wants to ask the 6-6 wing is if he is completely recovered from gunshot wounds to his right knee and left hand that forced him to miss the start of his junior year last season. Once he did step on the court after missing just four games, Parrom's season ended prematurely Jan. 28 after he broke his right foot during a home game against Washington.
The emotional pain in his life was far worse around this time last year, however. The Bronx, N.Y., native lost both his grandmother and mother within months, and it was during that late September trip back home to see an ill Lisa Williams one last time when his life turned upside-down.
A year later, there is still a part of head coach Sean Miller that regrets not redshirting him.
The hug between Kevin Parrom (left), assistant coach Book Richardson and the rest of the staff in his return to the floor was one of the memorable images from an otherwise forgettable 2011-12 season.
"I think that the reasons that we didn't redshirt him were all the right reasons," Miller added. "Most importantly, that if we took the ability for him to be a part of the team a year ago - to travel with us, to have that carrot out there that he could play - I don't know if he would still be with us because of all the hardship he had to deal with."
Parrom said basketball was the only avenue he had to escape from the tragic events.
"Last year, I felt like I had no choice but to play, just to clear my head," Parrom said.
So when that only release from real life was no longer there, Parrom said times got tough again. The sixth man turned into a cheerleader, even tracking road games on Twitter and agonizing with any missteps in the Wildcats' performances.
Ironically, with no choice but to sit around, the time away from the court eventually helped release him from the built-up personal anguish. In addition, Parrom was able to take a few extra classes and speed up his road to graduation.
"I tried to make the best of it," Parrom said.
Don't expect a pity party from the senior.
Parrom needed about two months to recover from the broken foot. It was then right back to work, an extensive rehabilitation process with strength and conditioning coach Chris Rounds waiting for him.
With his legs under him again, Parrom then returned to the court in the summer. Taking a page out of departed guard Kyle Fogg's book, both Parrom and Nick Johnson - the two Wildcats battling for Fogg's old shooting guard spot in the starting lineup - hoisted 20,000 jump shots in the offseason.
During a two-game summer trip to the Bahamas, Parrom tied for the team lead in scoring at 18.5 points per game and connected on 65 percent (13 of 20) shots from the field. One of the premier long-range threats on the team this season, he also converted 6 of 10 3-pointers.
"He's worked really hard across the board to have this last year be one of meaning for him," Miller said. "I think all of our players can feed off of that and that's where you can see his leadership ability, by the example that he has set and continues to set."
Although competitors on the practice floor, Johnson can only admire the work his teammate has put in - and the lack of excuses he's offered up along the way.
"It's no secret that he's had a hard time," Johnson said. "With everything that's happened to him, I commend him on his perseverance. Not a lot of guys can go through what he's gone through and come back and have a great summer like he did. I'm definitely looking forward to him having a big year."
Kevin Parrom is ready to make the questions about his health disappear, once and for all, when Arizona opens the season Sunday against Charleston Southern. Tipoff at McKale Center is scheduled for 4 p.m.
Off the court, things have started to look up, too.
The addition of Xavier transfer Mark Lyons reunited a pair of middle school friends and former travel-ball teammates from New York. When Parrom was originally recruited by Xavier, Miller was the coach and the staff appointed Lyons as his official host.
Along with New Jersey native and walk-on Quinton Crawford, Parrom now has three roommates he can relate to with East Coast ties.
"It helps having a guy from back home, a guy that knows what kind of person you are, a guy that knows what goes on back home," Parrom said.
"I've known him as long as I've known coach Miller. So it was weird that he's ending his career at Arizona with me."
With just three days until the season opener, there is still work to be done, however. Miller said Parrom's practice performances, as of late, could still indicate some rust, and Parrom added that the next step in his road back is consistency.
But the competitive environment with Johnson, Lyons, Jordin Mayes and Gabe York all competing for minutes can be attributed as a factor, too.
And it's the depth - plus the addition of a talented frontcourt that makes up 75 percent of the nation's No. 3-ranked recruiting class - that has Parrom thinking more about the present and what's to come.
"I feel like I'm going to have a great year," Parrom said. "As a team, I feel like we're going to have a very successful year.
"This year is much different."
(Editor's Note: Tracy mcDannald is the senior editor of GOAZCATS. For more Wildcats' coverage, visit the website at GOAZCATS.com.)