Pollard’s path from Utah to WSU was far from normal

Pollard spent a year at the Impact Basketball Academy in Nevada following high school in Bountiful, Utah.

Despite already having a scholarship in hand, WSU freshman forward Jeff Pollard chose to play another year of prep basketball following his high school graduation instead of attending college right away.

Pollard committed to WSU Head Coach Ernie Kent prior to his senior year, but instead chose to attend the Impact Basketball Academy in Nevada after he was told that he needed to add mass to his lanky 6-foot-9-inch frame.

“The first time the coaches saw me was at an elite camp between my junior and senior year,” Pollard said. “It wasn’t like they were following me around in the summer.”

Following the camp in the summer of 2014, Pollard and the WSU staff started talking, and coaches liked what they saw from him. Pollard received an offer from the Cougars shortly afterward.

“When they offered me, it was about a week later that I said yes,” Pollard said. “After being up here and around these coaches, I just knew this was the place that I wanted to be.”

Though Pollard had committed to WSU, his journey to Pullman was not quite finished. He ended his high school career leading the Bountiful Braves to their second-consecutive Utah state championship and averaged 14 points and seven rebounds per game. Pollard was also named to his second All-State team.

After graduating high school, Pollard decided to attend the highly-regarded academy in Las Vegas. Impact is one of the premier basketball academies in the country and has an impressive alumni base that features former NBA stars Kevin Garnett and Chauncey Billups.

“Impact is the best system for players of all levels,” Toronto Raptors point guard and All-Star Kyle Lowry said. “They have everything covered.”

Pollard had a good showing at Impact, averaging 15 points, 11 rebounds and two blocks per game. The team played the majority of its 35 games against other prep schools and junior colleges.

“It (Impact) helped big time both on and off the floor,” Pollard said. “On the floor it helped me really fine-tune my game, and off the floor it helped me experience freshman year without going through freshman year.”

While at Impact, Pollard grew between half an inch and an inch and gained about 15 pounds in preparation for his college career.

The transition from high school to college can be a big leap for a student, but the leap is gigantic for a student-athlete.

“Even as much as I prepared for it, it’s still a shock,” Pollard said. “No matter how much you prepare for it, you aren’t ready for the speed and intensity of the game. Guys handle that differently, but I feel like I’ve handled the transition pretty well for the most part.”

When talking about Pollard, Kent raves about how he is so defensive-minded as a big man.

“I think defense has always been that thing that I take pride in the most,” Pollard said. “Defense was something I took upon myself to make the team better.”

Due to the Cougars’ depth in the frontcourt, playing time has not always been abundant for Pollard in his first season. Pollard averages 7.7 minutes per game and his season-high of 18 points came in a game against Utah Valley on Nov. 30.

“As far as minutes, I’m not sure what the plan is,” Pollard said. “I’m not too worried about minutes this first year. (I’m) just going to work hard and grind and let the playing time take care of itself.”

With fellow big men Conor Clifford and Josh Hawkinson graduating after this season, the opportunity for Pollard next year should be there for the taking.