Scot Pollard is just as his former coach and fellow players remember him from his brief stint at Kamiakin High School more than two decades ago.
Pollard, a retired NBA forward and center, is a contestant on the current season of the CBS reality TV show Survivor. Though they haven’t seen him in years, they say his gregarious nature and ability to befriend anyone has come in handy.
“He has an ability to mesh with other people,” said Dan Legard, finance director for the city of Kennewick who was a junior guard and forward on Pollard’s Kamiakin team. “He’s somebody people are drawn to.”
He has an ability to mesh with other people. He’s somebody people are drawn to.
Dan Legard, former Kamiakin High School basketball player
Don Schumacher, Kamiakin High’s retired boys basketball coach, recalled when Pollard moved to the Tri-Cities.
Pollard’s older brother played with a minor league basketball team based at what is now the Toyota Center in the early 1990s. In spring 1992, he approached Schumacher about Scot Pollard and the boys’ mother moving to the area from California after the death of their father.
“I had no idea who he was, just that he was good at basketball,” Schumacher said. “But before he got here I was getting calls from Arizona, UCLA, Kansas.”
Pollard, an imposing 6-foot-11 college prospect who would go on to become a Parade All-American, played in camps and trained that summer with the boys team before the start of the 1992-93 season. He was easy to get along and play with, meshing effortlessly with a completely new team.
“He fit right in and did great,” said Tony Schumacher — Don Schumacher’s son — who was a senior point guard that season with Pollard and Legard.
The season didn’t end on the note everyone hoped. Despite having most of its starters back, along with Pollard, the team suffered an early loss in the state tournament, resulting in a fourth-place finish. Pollard returned with his mother to California shortly afterward, partly so Pollard could play on his old school’s volleyball team.
Eventually, he attended and played for the University of Kansas before going pro. He had stints with five teams during an 11-year career, retiring after helping the Boston Celtics win a championship in 2008. He lives in Indiana with his family.
Pollard stayed in touch, though. It was during a conversation with Tony Schumacher about a year ago that Pollard revealed he’d been out of town filming for the series, and told his former teammate to keep an eye out for it on TV.
Both Schumachers and Legard have watched every episode of Survivor: Kaôh Rong, the series’ 32nd season, since it began airing in mid-February. The show airs Wednesdays on CBS.
He doesn’t get into the politicking and who to get rid of.
Don Schumacher, former Kamiakin High School basketball coach
Don Schumacher said his former player has demonstrated he’s still the well-spoken and even-mannered student he knew more than 20 years ago.
While Pollard’s initial Survivor team frequently struggled and had to vote people off, the former NBA star has been a stabilizing force, his former coach said.
“He doesn’t get into the politicking and who to get rid of,” Don Schumacher said.
Tony Schumacher and Legard said they can see how some fans of the show might view Pollard as something as a villain, as he was aligned with a contestant many fans did not like.
But as the show has progressed and the competing “tribes” have merged, they’ve noticed that Pollard continues to build new alliances and has avoided making enemies.
Combined with Pollard’s physical health, it’s made him a contender, his former teammates said.
“I’m not surprised he’s doing well,” Legard said.
Of course, no one knows if that will get Pollard to the end of the competition. But for those who played with him on the basketball court, it’s great to see him back in action regardless.