Former Jayhawk Scot Pollard aims to be 'Survivor' in entertainment

LAWRENCE, Kansas -- Scot Pollard is coming to a small (and big) screen near you. The former Kansas Jayhawks star -- who also spent 11 seasons in the NBA with the Detroit Pistons, Sacramento Kings, Indiana Pacers, Cleveland Cavaliers and Boston Celtics -- is one of 18 castaways competing on the 32nd season of “Survivor,” beginning Feb. 17 on CBS.

This season, "Survivor: Kaoh Rong," is a reboot of the Brains vs. Brawn vs. Beauty format. Although the colorful, 6-foot-11 Pollard might put himself in all three categories, he competed on Team Brawn when the show was taped last spring in Cambodia.

Pollard has also wrapped up production on a movie he produced, helped write and starred in called “The Association” that he hopes to get screened in film festivals this fall.

“I get the same reaction when people found out,” said Pollard, who was known during his playing days to change his look from mohawks to dying his hair to sporting a Fu Manchu mustache. “People who know me were not surprised.”

Pollard used to bang in the post against opponents like Shaquille O’Neal. Surely he could handle the physically demanding reality show, right?

“I didn’t have time to train,” Pollard said. “When it came down to it, they said we are doing this, can you go? I’m never in good shape anymore. I guess for the average person who doesn’t work out, I’m in great shape, but an NBA player? No, my body is broken.”

Pollard is the second former NBA player to appear on the show. Cliff Robinson, who spent the majority of his career with the Portland Trail Blazers, lasted 18 days and finished in 14th place during the 28th season of the show, which also had its tribes divided into Brains, Brawn and Beauty.

“I felt like I had an advantage physically because of the amount of things you do to your body to maintain professional athlete status level,” Pollard said. “If you miss a meal or two or three, eh, I’ve done horrible things to my body to be a professional athlete for over a decade, so I wasn’t too worried about that.”

"Survivor" may not even be the most exciting debut for Pollard this month. He’s as excited to see the final cut of “The Association,” which he said he’d get to view this week.

“It’s a small-budget movie -- it’s a no-budget movie really,” Pollard said. “I produced it, so there’s no big-named actors. It’s loosely based on my time in the NBA and my personal life and it’s not 100 percent accurate.”

Pollard collaborated with Kevin Willmott, an associate professor of film and media studies at the University of Kansas, to develop the script. Wilmott also co-wrote the Spike Lee film “Chi-Raq” that was recently in theaters.

For Pollard, 2016 is shaping up to be the culmination of what many of his friends and family always knew he had in him. And for that, Pollard thanked one person in particular.

Pollard worked at a golf club in Lawrence, Kansas, while still a college undergrad, and the golf pro at the time, Randy Towner, called Pollard one of his “worst employees” for the simple fact that Pollard’s calling was in entertainment.

“He looked me in my eyes and said, ‘You belong on TV, you belong in movies,’” Pollard said. “I never forgot that. I always felt that way inside, but to have somebody else that you know and love to just say that flat out changed everything.”