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Thursday, May 19, 2022

Men's Basketball

Pollard breaking in his Houston shoes


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Despite constant separation from his mother due to her prison sentence on kidnapping charges, Pollard has kept playing hard for the Cougars. Pollard has totaled 206 points over 19 games. | Samantha Villarreal/The Cougar

By now the UH community has heard the back story of transfer forward Devonta Pollard.

It isn’t the typical tale of overcoming odds and excelling at sports — he has transitioned from two previous schools, and Pollard’s mother, also his biggest supporter and fan, is in prison.

Pollard has made his mark in Houston, racking up multiple accolades, including American Athletic Conference Player of the Week. The Cougar sat down with Pollard as he continues to push not only his team, but himself toward succeed.

The Cougar: When you left high school, you didn’t really want to be far from home. How do you like it at UH so far? Do you ever feel homesick?

Devonta Pollard: I’m not really homesick, and I can’t even remember the last time I went home. When I first arrived, I wanted to go home. Guys like Coach Kellen (Sampson) and Coach (Kelvin) Sampson just make me feel comfortable, so I really don’t have the want and desire to go home like I thought I would.

(However,) I like UH because it’s only eight hours away from home. I can get up and go when I want, but at the same time, I didn’t want to be able to just get up in the middle of the night and go. That was the perfect situation for me because I felt like I needed to get away from the city, but also if I wanted to continue pursuing the life of basketball. At the end of the day I also felt like this would be the best thing for me and my mom, to put us in the best situation is for me to come here and be successful at basketball.

TC: Now you’ve been player of the game and on the AAC weekly honor roll twice. Are you feeling like the player you once were before the personal issues happened?

DP: I feel like I’m getting my swagger back. After the games against Murray and Morgan State, my confidence started to build back up. I think it’s carrying over to practice, because when I first started here, my practices were up and then they were down (and so on). Now they’re steady, and I’m always going into practice with the same amount of energy that I had the day before. I’m not on a rollercoaster anymore. All of that comes with my swagger, and I think I’m getting it back.

TC: What kind of presence do you want to be on this team?

DP: Every day Coach talks to me about bringing the most energy to practice and playing the hardest. I feel I’ll bring a lot of athleticism offensively and defensively. Also, one thing I believe I can do that no one else can at my rate is rebound— on the offensive and defensive end. Coach would bring me in film, sit me down and would tell me each and every day that whenever I want to rebound, no one else on the team can do it like I can. He’d show me film and let me see that for myself. He stayed on me about that because he knows that we can do it, and since we’re so undersized as a team, we need rebounds. We need to keep teams to one shot and not let them hurt us with our second and third shot. So that’s what I took on.

TC: What would be a storybook ending for you?

DP: The thing that I want to happen the most, that I dream about and that I see is me getting signed then getting a degree, or getting a degree then getting signed. Then I would get drafted in the first round and be able to go get my mom and put her in her own house. That would be my storybook ending.

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