Coincidentally, for all you Pollock groupies Bednarowski of the MDJ wrote this today for the MDJ.
JD Pollock is a basketball junkie.
As the director of player development for San Diego State's men's basketball team, the former Lassiter Trojan and Kennesaw State Owl has to eat, sleep and live the game.
For him, there is nothing better.
"From the time I was 6 or 7, I knew I wanted to be in college basketball," the 37-year-old Pollock said. "I just love it."
Now, Pollock is getting the chance to prove just how much he is in love with the game. Over the last few weeks, while San Diego State has made a run to the Final Four, Pollock has had to do twice the amount of work he normally does, but he is seeing it pay off in a big way.
"I don't really know what the 'director of player development' means," Pollock said earlier this week in a rare break from the Aztecs' preparation to face Florida Atlantic on Saturday in Houston. "It's more like the director of scouting."
Pollock is rarely on the floor with the team during practice, instead spending most of his time watching film -- trying to find areas in which the Aztecs can take advantage of another team's personnel and schemes.
"I watch opponents more than I watch the Aztecs," Pollock said. "I'm trying to give us the best look possible of opponents."
As soon as San Diego State returned home from Louisville, Kentucky, where it clinched the Midwest Region with a 57-56 win over Creighton in the Elite Eight, Pollock finished his preparations for Florida Atlantic.
Then, the moment he turned his film over to the coaches and players, he began the double-duty work of breaking down both Connecticut and Miami, who will face off in the second semifinal.
"It's watching, cutting and organizing all the film," Pollock said. "Then, I present it. It's cool to see everything come together."
Pollock is in his sixth season working in his current position. Prior to that, he filled a similar role at Cal State-Bakersfield, before being promoted to assistant coach. He has also served as an assistant and head coach at Central Arizona College, which he led to a 64-31 record in three seasons and recruited or coached nine players who moved on to play Division I basketball, including two National Junior College Athletic Association All-Americans.
Over his tenure with San Diego State, Pollock has felt the Aztecs had what they needed to reach the Final Four, but that was not necessarily the case this season. San Diego State started the 202-21 season 26-0, finished the regular season 28-1 and were 30-2 when the NCAA canceled the remainder of the season due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
"We had won the Continental Tire Invitational in Las Vegas," Pollock said of that campaign. "We beat Creighton and Iowa. We beat Utah State twice during the regular season. We were Final Four good."
This season, Pollock said he kept waiting for things to fall into place. For much of the season, we was waiting for the team to start playing to its potential.
"It was frustrating," he said. "We were winning games, but it wasn't clicking."
San Diego State opened with four straight wins before dropping its final two games of the Maui Invitational to Arizona and Arkansas. A loss to Saint Mary's left the Aztecs 7-3 before they went on a stretch where they won 10 of 11 -- including a 88-54 win over his alma mater, Kennesaw State.
Still, it was not until the Mountain West Conference and NCAA tournaments where Pollock said the team began to peak. He said the reason was because everyone held one another accountable, and it became a player-led squad.
"It wasn't smooth early," Pollock said, "but, man, we just took off."
While taking care of San Diego State, Pollock also said he also kept one eye on Kennesaw State. He said the meteoric rise of the Owls' program brought him back closer with his former teammates, but he knew from the meeting with them in December that Kennesaw State was ready to make a run of its own.
"I'm super proud of what they did," said Pollock, who played with the Owls under the late Tony Ingle from 2007-09, after beginning his career with two seasons at Berry. "After the game, I told them they had everything they needed to win the ASUN, and while I was talking to them, I knew they knew they could do it."
He said Kennesaw State's success this season was something he always felt could happen. The program just needed the right pieces to fall into place.
"I knew what it could be, and I don't think it will be a one-time thing," Pollock said.
He also would not mind a rematch with the Owls next year, but this time in the NCAA Tournament.
"If that happens, it means both teams have had good years and they've earned it," Pollock said.