It is not an overstatement to say that Jai Lucas and Patrick Patterson’s recruitments launched KSR to the mainstream thirteen years ago, and in his introductory press conference this morning, Kentucky’s new special assistant to the head coach/recruiting coordinator opened up about just how close he was to becoming a Wildcat in 2007.
“I was coming,” Lucas said. “I was coming to Kentucky until Coach [Tubby] Smith left and took the Minnesota job. That kind of left me in the scramble mode because I had made my mind up for months and then that’s how I ended up at Florida.”
At the time, Billy Donovan’s Gators were coming off back-to-back national championships. Lucas said he tried his hardest to convince Patterson, who was also considering Florida, to join him in Gainesville.
“We were really close during the recruiting process,” Lucas said of Patterson. “I would say we probably communicated about it every day, especially down the stretch. But we’re really tied together because of a lot of schools, two main schools, Florida and Kentucky, that recruited us. I think the biggest thing about it was, down the stretch we communicated a lot and when I decided — I believe I decided before him, maybe — and I think after that I really tried to push him to come with me.”
Of course, that didn’t happen, but Lucas said he and Patterson, who is currently with the LA Clippers, remain in touch.
“We’ve stayed in contact. I’ve seen him every now and then. When he was with the [Houston] Rockets, they used to have training camp in Austin so we always connected when he came there and we talk through social media every now and then.”
After the news that Lucas was joining Kentucky’s staff became official, Patterson left a comment on the school’s basketball Instagram account praising him for finally joining the family and texted Lucas the same.
“Yeah, I got a message. It was the same message he put under the school’s Instagram account. He texted me and said, ‘You finally joined the right team even though it may be years later but welcome to the family.’ It’s been really exciting. I’ve had a bunch of messages from former players and stuff, just people tied with the University. I’m very, very appreciative of that.”
Even though Lucas never played a game in a Kentucky uniform — he finished his college career at Texas — he said the program has had a special place in his heart ever since he first stepped on campus in 2006.
“This place has left an impact on me ever since I took a visit and just through the whole recruiting process. If you’re about basketball and everything that comes with it and the whole experience of college basketball, it’s hard to say no to Kentucky.”
For a fun blast from the past, enjoy our post on Lucas’ trip to Lexington in October 2006, courtesy of Intern (not to be confused with Bryan the Intern):
Jai characterized the visit as “amazing”, saying that it was a “great time all around.” He said that Bobby Perry was his official host but “basically the whole team was around us all weekend and they were all cool guys.” Jai confirmed that he has not committed to UK or any school as of yet. “At this point I plan on taking every visit, but I’ll have to see how things progress.”
Lucas was blown away with the hooplah at Madness, espcially concerning the fan support. Hearing the fans chanting his name “was one of the coolest things ever in my life.”
Lucas also reiterated the tight bond among the UK recruits, saying “we’ve grown real close.” They had plenty of bonding time this weekend, beginning with Madness on Friday night, taking in the unrivaled ambiance of Keeneland yesterday afternoon, and dining on Donna’s finest china at the Smith residence last night. Lucas must have felt like royalty all weekend, and was “amazed that people recognized me” while out on the town.
Jai Lucas and Kentucky and typos on KSR. Some things never change.