Before we get to Pat, quick update on Darnell Gant. I spoke with his mother this evening who said that Darnell still had not arrived back from Lexington. She said that she had spoken with him and “he had a great time.” I asked her about her son and the recruiting process and she said “I am amazed at what has been going on. I love my son, but I didnt know everyone else did so much too!” When I asked her finally if she thought that Darnell might leave the West Coast and go across country she said, “well I did that when I was young. I didnt know if Darnell would do that before, but he just might.” Interesting stuff.
Now onto Patrick Patterson. It has been an odd day to say the least when it comes to news about Patterson and his visit to Duke. I have heard a number of different, very odd stories, none of which I feel comfortable repeating at this time. But suffice to say, no one has told me that the Duke visit went great and that a commitment (which Duke was hoping to get locked up before Patrick left campus) seemed forthcoming. When the Patrick Patterson recruitment ends, I have a number of GREAT stories to be told, regardless of whether he ends up. But for now, we are still in a holding pattern for the next few weeks.
Ultimately if anyone says they KNOW where Patrick is going, they are simply lying. This family has kept this recruitment on an even keel and has been as thorough as any that I have seen go through this process. Patterson was thrown into a whirlwind with his great play this summer and the Patterson family has seen their life change dramatically in a few months. But they have handled the whole thing with class and are as well informed as any family I have seen.
No one is pulling anything on this group. I know the Patterson’s have serious questions that have needed to be answered by all schools. They wonder about the fans’ treatment of Tubby Smith and have brought that subject up to me on MULTIPLE occasions. They are curious about why it took Duke so long to get involved with their son and how they went from completely off the radar to the supposed #1 target. They wonder from Florida about the support of the fan base down there and how basketball fits in with the university as a whole. In short, these are folks who know the process and are not afraid to ask the tough questions.
When I was in Indianapolis, I talked with a number of analysts and coaches. All thought that it would be very difficult to get Patterson from Kentucky. The relationship that Tubby has created with the family will make it VERY HARD for them to look him in the eye and say no. Tubby has won over the parents and being so close to Kentucky is a huge benefit on the decision. What has happened since Indy, and really since the visit a few weeks ago, is that Florida has risen from being the certain third place contender, to a real horse in this race. Patrick loved the camraderie between the Florida guys (which is real) and the family atmosphere that Billy D has created down there. I often got the feeling when I spoke with the Pattersons before that Florida was a 3rd and maybe a 4th choice behind Wake Forest. Now it would not shock me in the least to see him become a Gator.
As for UK, I still like the chances leading into Madness. Kentucky has gotten the last visit….and the one scheduled for the most important recruiting day of the year. No school wants Patrick more and no fan base in the country wants any one recruit like the UK folks want Patrick. It is imperative that this be shown at Midnight Madness and I think it will. At this point, UK has done all it can do, but this one last hurdle is a big one. The show and visit at Midnight Madness needs to be tremendous. If it is, Kentucky has made their case the best they can and the chips will fall where they may.
People always ask me where Pat will go….and honestly I have my thoughts, but I will not predict. As I have said before, I talk to two people regularly who are as close to this situation as anyone can be. Both have consistently told me the same things…..and with both of them, the “top school” has changed at various points. What has not changed is the insistence that UK has always been right in the mix.
Pat is a difference maker. UK can have a good class without him. They however cannot have a great class without him. If he comes, Lucas comes and a Patterson, Lucas, Stewart, Williams (and one more) class is great for the Cats’ future. Without him a good class can be pieced together, but it will be three years without a cant miss college star. This is big folks…..not program defining as some have said….but big nonetheless. Midnight Madness will tell the tale and the coaching staff, players and fans better bring their “A” game.