It's not often that earning a commitment from the #2 player in the country - and snatching him out from under Rick Pitino's nose - won't kick off your News and Views post, but this happens to be one of those instances. Just after noon on Friday, Kentucky junior Patrick Patterson will take the stage one last time in Lexington to address the media and presumably announce his intentions to enter the NBA Draft, ending one of the most storied and beloved careers in Wildcat history. Since giving his commitment to the Wildcats after famously comparing and contrasting the various schools on his list, Patterson came to Kentucky as a McDonald's All-American whose game was as much of a need of anyone in modern history and, ironically, left as more of a luxury than we ever expected.
Make no mistake about it. Patrick Patterson's Wildcat career was outstanding, averaging 16.1 points and 8.2 rebounds per game in three seasons in Lexington. But, in a program that has seen plenty of great players come and go, Patrick Patterson joined an elite club of legends at a school that doesn't just give that title away and, incredibly, did it during one of the roughest patches in program history. Kentucky fans were going to root for Patrick Patterson no matter what. But, through toughness and undeniable class, he made us all love him and he found himself with a special place in the hearts of all Wildcat fans.
Despite growing up only an two hours from Lexington, Patrick wasn't necessarily a "local kid", but he treated the program with the respect and the reverence that everyone of us who grew up with a hoop and a Big Blue Dream prays that Wildcat players will. When his freshman season ended early due to an ankle injury and he faced the media while fighting back tears, we felt the pain like it was our own. When he chose to come back for a chance at the NCAA Tournament despite a difficult sophomore season and with a coaching change and a number of big-name players coming in, we proudly admired his heart like he was our son. And it wasn't out of coincidence. Patrick Patterson made us all feel like he was one of us - passionate, determined and damn proud to call himself a Kentucky Wildcat.
So, when he sits down one final time today, likely sitting between his two proud parents, and addresses his Big Blue Family, soak it all in. When he tells you how much he loves UK and Lexington, know that he means it. Patrick Patterson's career at UK wasn't about points or rebounds. It wasn't about adding range to his jump shot or even bridging the gaps between three coaches. It was about the pride he took in restoring the prestige and class to UK's program and playing every play like he was a 10-year old in his driveway wearing a faded Jamal Masburn jersey (and giving Fake Gimel's wife a ride home). With John Calipari in town, there will be plenty of talented big men that will fill the spot Patterson filled in the lineup. However, it's tough to imagine anyone truly filling the sizable shoes #54 is leaving behind.
So, with Patterson's departure in mind, I went to the KSR archives to see what I could find and, not surprisingly, if you search "Patrick Patterson", you receive 1,087 posts. Patrick has sort of been a big deal around here. My original intentions were to go through all 76 pages of posts and find the best, but I thought that might beat you down a bit. So, instead, let's take a trip down memory lane to the early days of KSR and the saga that was "Patterson and Lucas". Sidenote: Props to "Tom Gray" for being the first person to ask if there was any news on Patterson and Lucas. Enjoy.
01/15/2006 - Alex Legion on Patrick Patterson (a great first post on the big man)
01/30/2006 - Patrick Patterson’s visit
06/16/06 - Is this the next big recruit?
07/09/2006 - The 2007 Recruit that Kentucky MUST Have
07/18/2006 - Fans raided Patterson’s MySpace page
07/30/2006 - Patterson makes Tubby change the way he recruits
08/30/2006 - Episode Three of Kentucky Sports Radio features Patrick Patterson and Marshall Moses
10/18/2006 - Analyzing Patrick Patterson’s possible destinations
11/27/2006 - Episode Fifteen of Kentucky Sports Radio features Patrick Patterson and Jay Bilas
02/13/2007 - Patterson breaks down the Cats and the Gators
04/08/2007 - Clyde goes recruiting
05/15/2007 - Patrick Patterson eve
05/17/2006 - Patterson picks the Cats
05/18/2006 - Patterson picks the Cats (part II)
Finally, let's end this with where it all began. Patrick Patterson announces his intentions to play basketball at the University of Kentucky.
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