Billy Gillispie didn’t have many wins when it came to recruiting while at the University of Kentucky. Names like Michael Avery, Dominque Ferguson, and Kevin Galloway litter a list of players who didn’t live up to expectations or hype.
For those early readers of KSR, you might remember May 14th, 2007, a day that Matt Jones described in an article as “likely the worst 24 hours of recruiting that the UK basketball program has ever had in its long history.”
That day, described by Jones as “Black Monday” saw three major recruits go against the Cats. The most notable being Jai Lucas who spurned Kentucky to play for Billy Donovan and Florida. Yeah, that same Jai Lucas.
The other “higher-rated” names that the new UK head coach missed on the same day? Beas Hamga, who picked UNLV, and Michael Sanchez, who headed to Arkansas. Hamga only played in 31 total games in college scoring a total of 16 points while Sanchez averaged just under five points a game during his career in Fayetteville.
That brings us to May 16th in 2007 when Huntington Prep forward Patrick Patterson was announcing where he would play college basketball.
Heading into the day, Gillispie had been on the job in Lexington about six weeks and had yet to sign a player from the ’07 class. After missing out on Lucas, Hamga, and Sanchez, the new head coach needed a win on the recruiting trail.
The announcement was simple and traditional. Three hats sitting on a table. Patterson paused, picked up one, and uttered the words “I will be attending the University of Kentucky.”
At the time, it felt like the rebirth of Kentucky basketball was officially beginning again. Patterson had been one of the mainstays of recruiting for over two years and since he played just across the bridge in West Virginia, an easy target for fans to visit and see in person.
In fact, the day he announced was, at the time, KSR’s biggest day viewership for the site in history.
In the KSR article posted back on this date in 2007 announcing the commitment, Matt Jones wrote “What matters (is) the perception that he was the hottest recruit in America and Kentucky got him…..that is UK basketball and it feels good.”
The excitement surrounding Patterson at the time was real from fans. One KSR commenter on the article said “The Big Blue Nation can now raise (its) collective middle finger to the rest of the college basketball world and say F-You, we’re back. There will be no rest for the butthole coaches out there like Pitino, Donovan & Coach K while BCG is on the job. The minute those jerks think it’s okay to relax for just one second, Billy-G will be out there recruiting circles around them.”
Another one added “Congrats all around! This is huge, as Matt has stated so well, for UK basketball. People will see that we are back. WE feel as if we are back – because we are. BCG is in the process of putting UK back at the top of the heap of college BB. Thanks Coach. Now go take a day off, buy a house, and re-load on Dr. Pepper! Let’s have Midnight Madness at Commonwealth Stadium so more of us can enjoy the moment! Isn’t all this fun??!! I wonder who BCG will recruit next?”
While the talent around him didn’t succeed until John Wall and company showed up in 2009, Patterson lived up to the hype that surrounded him. He averaged 16.1 points and 8.3 rebounds per game across his three seasons in Lexington. An injury his freshman season forced him to come back for his sophomore and junior seasons which he turned into being the 14th overall pick in the 2010 NBA Draft.
Now, 13 seasons later, Patterson is still continuing his NBA career. Something that no other Gillispie recruit at Kentucky can say.