Since he arrived, played, and graduated, we’ve had three seasons without Patrick Patterson, who, without hyperbole, may have been one of the biggest factors in turning around UK basketball. A top-15 recruit when he signed in 2007, Patterson was one of the biggest recruits of the decade for Kentucky. But not only did he come in highly-touted, but he stayed three years, graduated, and only got better during his tenure. Now he’s enjoying a successful pro career in Sacramento, after being a fan-favorite in Lexington.
You know who could learn from that? If you read the title of this post, or looked at the above picture, you’re probably a step ahead. So congratulations. But look at the numbers from their freshman seasons; there are a lot of similarities. Patterson got nearly ten more minutes per game, largely out of necessity, but within those minutes, Poythress and Patterson are a lot alike.
Both players shot at over 57% from the field, which frankly is pretty outstanding. Throw in Poythress’ 42.4% 3-point clip, and you’ve got a super-efficient offensive player, if maybe not aggressive enough for certain stretches. And the rebound rate (7.7/game for Patterson, 6.0/game for Poythress), accounting for the minutes disparity, is about the same, too. What you have with both of these guys are strong frontcourt players who benefit a little from being able to step out and, and benefit a lot from having better players around them. Even if he doesn’t start next season, look for Poythress to have a dynamite year, with less pressure, and more opportunity to play his game.
But more important than basketball performance, Poythress can take a page out of Patterson’s Character Handbook. PPatt was a legend not because he led the school from the BCG era to the Elite 8 in Cal’s first year, but because in addition to his ability, he was a humble guy that appreciated fans, respected coaches, and always went out of his way to represent the University well. Whether that meant graduating a year ahead of schedule, deferring to Wall and Cousins as teammates (despite his seniority), or giving people rides home after Basketball Camps, there was really nothing he could do wrong. If Poythress follows that example, whether he’s here 2 years, or 3-4, he can continue to impress folks around the BBN who are looking for a guy to step up and be what Patterson was: a true leader, on and off the court.
So Alex, if you’re reading this, you have a tremendous opportunity to become something that your team really needs: a leader who is secure enough to step back on the court, while stepping up off it. Next year should be great, and your continued maturation could have a lot to do with that.