CorrespondentWhen Mark Pollack plays basketball, he always takes the court with a chip on his shoulder.Even after the 6-foot-8-inch, 215-pound Charlotte Catholic senior forward committed to Army, becoming one of the most versatile forwards in the area, he still feels he has something to prove.“You see the rankings of players and teams that come out in the paper and online, we are rarely in them,” Pollack said. “But we just use that as motivation.”Pollack, who has started for most of the past three seasons for the Cougars, has transformed from a player known more for his perimeter play, to an all-ME-GA 7 conference performer capable of playing both inside and out.Pollack has added 6 inches and a variety of post moves in his time at Catholic while keeping his feathery touch from outside. He shot 52 percent from the field last year, including 47 percent from the three-point line and 78 percent from the free throw line, averaging nearly 15 points and five rebounds per game on his 22-7 Catholic team. None of that stopped Pollack from continuing to work on his stroke. He regularly gets up 500 shots per day on weekends and in the summer and at least 200 shots per day during school. Pollack says he has hit 13 consecutive three-pointers in practice and 51 straight free throws in his personal record. He has also focused on improving his rebounding and ball-handling skills.Pollack, 18, gets advice from his father, Robert, who also played basketball at Charlotte Catholic and graduated in 1985.“Work ethic has never been an issue for Mark, he is one of the hardest working guys we’ve had,” said Charlotte Catholic basketball coach Mike King. “He has really matured as an overall player. After being known as an outside shooter, he has really bought into his ability to score in the post. He has gotten stronger and learned to play with contact.”Pollack’s versatility has been on display this season. He has three 25-plus point efforts in his first four games as the Cougars are off to a 3-1 start.Pollack had 35 points in a 65-61 win against South Mecklenburg, going head-to-head with 6-foot-9-inch South Meck forward Malcom Mathews, 30 points in a 68-65 win over East Gaston and 25 points in the 62-55 loss to Ardrey Kell.Pollack has become what King calls “a matchup nightmare” for his opponents as he takes the bigger and stronger players on the perimeter, where most big men are uncomfortable. If his man is smaller, he can use his 6-foot-8-inch frame to post them up inside.Pollack is the top scorer and rebounder on his team, but he has a lot of experienced help with three other senior starters: point guard David Belfield, wing Ives Harkins, and forward Michael Murry.“We want to be even better than we were last year,” said Pollack, whose team advanced to the third round of the playoffs before losing to Concord. “Everyone wants to leave a mark, especially their senior year. But the best way I can do that is to help my team win. I want to help take this team as far as I can, because that is what people will remember.”With his future at West Point decided, Pollack can focus on Catholic.“It’s a big relief to have made my college decision and not have to worry about all the recruiting stuff,” said Pollack. He committed to Army in October after also getting interest from Appalachian State, Charlotte and Davidson. Pollack hopes to major in a computer-related field that will help him one day land a job in military intelligence.If his past is any indication, Pollack will continue to prove himself at whatever he is doing.“I am really excited about getting to West Point,” Pollack said. “It’s not only a top notch education, but they also have great athletics. If I go there (and a get a degree), I feel like I will be ready for anything.”• Story went to print before Charlotte Catholic’s games against Garinger and West Mecklenburg.
Wednesday, Dec. 19, 2012
Cougar transforms into all-around basketball player
Charlotte Catholic senior basketball player Mark Pollack is committed to play at Army next year.
Want to go? Charlotte Catholic and Charlotte Latin schools will host the 10th Holy Angels Basketball Tournament Dec. 20-22. Games start at 3:30 p.m. Thursday and 1 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Tickets are $7 per person and $15 for a weekend pass. All of the proceeds go to Holy Angels in Belmont, a group that provides a home for children and adults with intellectual and physical disabilities. Boys’ and girls’ teams from Charlotte Catholic, Queens Grant, Cardinal Gibbons, Porter Ridge, Charlotte Latin, Providence High, Marvin Ridge and Forsyth Country Day will participate in the tournament. For information and a schedule, visit www.GoCougars.org.