Two days ago on this very blog, we called it Black Monday. Three high school recruits picked other schools for various reasons and it looked as if Kentucky could end up with no new signees for 2007 and a roster that was, to put it mildly, guard-heavy. But oh how the world can change in 48 hours. Patrick Patterson, the recruit thought to be the longest shot for UK, picked the Cats, ending a two-year odyssey that had made him the most famous UK recruit since a guy named King Rex. With that commitment, Kentucky not only vastly improved its team next season and for the forseeable future, but it also sent a signal to the college basketball world. The Cats are back on the recruiting front folks, and the days of “below average Kentucky talent” are coming to an end.
This day has been a long time coming both for the program, and Kentucky fans. Patrick Patterson has spent the past year on everyone’s lips, with individuals who heretofore had no knowledge of recruiting following his every move. Everyone has a story of a Patterson question or comment over the past season and as Patterson’s ubiquitousness seemed to know no bounds. His visit to UK during Midnight Madness was a spectacle, with fans chanting his name and spotting him at activities all around the city. His games in Kentucky were highly attended affairs that featured multiple “We want Pat” chants. And the cities of Ashland and Huntington produced boatloads of UK fans making their intentions clear for over a year. Everyone wanted Patrick and the Patterson talk dominated all recruiting chatter for over 12 months.
And then just like that, it ended. Patrick sat down at a table with three hats and he picked up the worst looking of the group aesthetically but the best looking for the fans in attendance. In so doing, he gave another injection of excitement into a basketball community that has been falling over itself with giddiness in the past few weeks. Already there are naysayers and those who attempt to ruin the moment. At the head of that line is Jeff Goodman of Foxsports who criticizes the Patterson’s for not letting Florida and Duke know the result before the press conference. Of course what Jeff fails to say is that if they had let those schools know, Jeff and other recruiting gurus would have found out the result prior to the announcement from loose-lipped assistant coaches of the two losing programs (notoriously free with info) and ended the surprise of the Patterson announcement, thus upstaging the kid. That is a win for Jeff Goodman, but a loss for Patrick Patterson. Goodman criticizes the Pattersons for having the entire family talk and take in the moment….but I applaud it. I found that to be refreshing…..a family enjoying a moment hard-earned…..and in the process making the media wait. Good for them, no matter what Goodman says.
When Patterson said after a pause, “I will be attending the University of Kentucky,” an entire state literally let out a collective cheer. The cheer was in part for Patterson, but it was about a greater point. Patterson’s decision was a collective signal that UK is back as UK, a school able to beat Duke and Florida out for recruits and ready to rock the college basketball world again (a point also made today in another very well-written piece by John Clay). Will Patterson be a superstar on the court? I think yes, but in some ways it doesnt matter. What matters it the perception that he was the hottest recruit in America and Kentucky got him…..that is UK basketball and it feels good.
Below is a link to our show today from 5-7 pm, including an interview with Patrick’s dad. Tomorrow on our show, we will have Assistant Coach Jeremy Cox, Alex Legion and other guests. Enjoy the show….