July 15, 2011
Devonta Pollard is one of the top basketball recruits in the Class of 2012. To be specific, Rivals.com ranks the versatile small forward as the No. 6 overall prospect in the senior class. Fittingly, he's being recruited by national powerhouses like Kentucky, Duke and Georgetown, not to mention a host of other strong programs.
Yet all of the Porterville (Miss.) Kemper County prospect's prodigious talent isn't always enough to keep his harshest critic at bay. Who is that critic, you ask? His mom, of course. At a recent high-profile tournament game, she made that abundantly clear by literally pulling him off the floor after the hoops star committed two consecutive errors. More embarrassingly, she forcibly removed her own in front of a gaggle of the nation's best college basketball coaches.
The video below shows Pollard's mother, Jessie Pollard, sending in a sub for the Southern Phenoms AAU squad while pulling off her own son. That wouldn't be a particularly shocking move if Ms. Pollard was the Southern Phenoms coach, but she isn't. Instead, she just happens to be the mother of the team's most notable player, and that was enough to get the change made.
"He had made two mistakes," Pollard told a Prep Rally source who was sitting courtside. "It's hard to play a whole ball game, so I had to take him out to calm him down."
Yet, while the move may have helped calm Pollard down -- he later returned and played up to the potential you see him displaying at the end of the above clip -- it also sent a mild shockwave through the slew of college head coaches who were on hand to watch him in person.
Considering the fact that Texas coach Rick Barnes, Georgetown coach John Thompson III, LSU coach Trent Johnson, Vanderbilt coach Kevin Stallings and a dozen other head coaches and top assistants were at the game, the entire incident was a bit embarrassing for the budding superstar.
Of course, the on-court yanking also leads to a variety of other questions, as well. Why was Jessie Pollard allowed to walk down to the court and embarrass her son that way (that seems fairly obvious: she gets to call the shots since her son is the team's unquestioned superstar)? What will top coaches think of a player whose mother is so outwardly domineering, not to mention that prospect's willingness to blindly follow her lead over his own coach's action?
And, perhaps finally, what makes Jessie Pollard so sure that she knows what's right for her son? The answer to that last part is almost down to the elder Pollard's own basketball experience. According to this ESPN profile of the Pollard family, Jessie Pollard was once the No. 4 overall pick of the Chicago Hustle, a team in the long defunct Women's Professional Basketball League. She also happens to stand an imposing 6-foot-2, so she's an intimidating figure in any gym, even when it's crowded with top high school prospects.
Still, that hardly seems to justify any of her drastic actions at the tournament. The question now is whether her overbearing style of advice will scare colleges away from her talented son.
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