Fresh Faces of the SEC: Kentucky’s Patrick Patterson

Tim PollockSenior Writer IJanuary 20, 2008

A second team All-USA selection out of Huntington High School in West Virginia, Patrick Patterson led his high school team to three straight state championships—the last one with the help of USC guard OJ Mayo. 

Along the way, Patterson was recruited by nearly every school in the nation. 

In one of the most highly publicized recruiting battles of the year, Patterson somewhat surprisingly chose the rebuilding program of Kentucky, thwarting his close friend and summer ball teammate, Florida point guard Jai Lucas, who thought the two would certainly be playing college ball together.

Instead, the 6'8", 235-lb Patterson became Billy Gillispie’s first major recruiting snag for the Wildcats.

He has lived up to his hype, to say the least. 

I do not think stats prove a player’s worth. However, one look at Patrick Patterson’s season averages show how much of an impact this kid has made already. 

Patterson leads Kentucky with 16.6 points, eight rebounds, and 1.4 blocks per game.  He shoots 58 percent from the field and a ridiculous 76 percent from the free throw line. This, of course, while every team the Wildcats face know Patterson is the only frontcourt scoring threat Kentucky has—and therefore gameplan to limit his touches. 

While the free throw percentage is impressive for a freshman power forward/center, Patterson’s most glaring stat might be this:  While logging 35 minutes per contest, he only turns the ball over two times a game, making his assist to turnover ratio roughly the same as Kentucky’s starting backcourt of Ramel Bradley and Joe Crawford.

Beyond the gaudy numbers, though, a closer examination reveals an even more valuable player.  For starters, his body size is already NBA-ready—and he has a surprisingly nice touch on his shot.  Watch this kid seal his man on the low post—he does it with ease, against veteran SEC post players.  He demands the ball in the post, works hard on both ends of the floor, and plays through pain.   

In short, Patterson has all the tools you can coach—but more importantly, all the tools you can’t as well.
In Saturday’s overtime loss to Florida, Patterson was essentially a one-man wrecking crew down low, getting all of Florida’s big men in trouble.  Clearly tired and not fully healthy, he shot only 5-14, but his inside presence alone was enough to give his teammates the opportunity to go one-on-one with little help from the inside defenders. 

Unfortunately for Patterson, his teammates couldn’t meet him halfway. 

Instead, Florida’s Nick Calathes, the first “Fresh Face” recipient, took over the game offensively and defensively en route to yet another Florida triumph over the Wildcats. 

What is refreshing about Patterson is his work ethic and obvious passion for the game. Patterson was clearly frustrated during the Florida game, as his teammates simply wouldn’t or couldn’t feed him the ball on the block, despite the solid position he had over and over.  But frankly, you can’t blame the guy for getting upset. 

Bradley and Crawford have given the Wildcats good minutes, but the rest of the team has been plagued by inconsistency and injuries.  Outside of Patterson, Bradley, and Crawford, points have been few and far between.  On top of that, UK doesn’t have the luxury of a consistent three-point threat—meaning more room for teams to sag and help on Patterson. 

That said, it’s hard to imagine what Kentucky would be without Patterson. 

Even though Kentucky is reeling at 7-9—and just lost their seventh in a row to rival Florida, Wildcat fans have to be excited about what Patterson can give them—unless, of course, he bolts for the league next season. 

If that’s the case, Billy Gillispie might want to start packing up his things now.