HUNTINGTON, WV-- Patrick Patterson waited until the final day Wednesday to sign an NCAA basketball letter-of-intent.
And the 6-foot-8, 235-pound EA SPORTS All-American decided to stay close to home. The four-year star for Huntington High opted for the University of Kentucky, which is about a two-hour automobile drive from his hometown.
Patterson, who helped the Highlanders to a No. 3 national FAB 50 ranking and a record third straight state Class AAA title this past season, selected the Wildcats over his other two finalists, Florida and Duke. He earlier had West Virginia, Wake Forest and Virginia on his short recruiting list.
It was believed Patterson earlier favored Kentucky but may have wavered when head coach Tubby Smith left after last season for the same position at Minnesota. But Smith's replacement, Billy Gillespie, continued to court Patterson. He was the guest speaker on May 7 at the post-season Highlander basketball banquet attended also by Wildcat assistant coach Jeremy Cox.
Patterson, at the time, said he liked Kentucky because "it's a basketball school and everywhere coach Gillespie has gone, he's had a successful season. And the fans love me there."
Patterson, the last unsigned elite high school Class of 2007 prospect, made his announcement at an afternoon news conference in the Huntington High gymnasium. It was attended by several media members from Kentucky as well as West Virginia.
"The fans and the fan support and coach Gillispie coming in and at his previous program, he brought them up at Texas A&M," Patterson remarked. "They were first in their conference this year. Coming to Kentucky, he's going to care about being successful. He talked about being an impact player when I get there my freshman year."
Patterson joins Alex Legion, another late addition for Gillispie and staff, as well as Smith holdovers A.J. Stewart and Mike Williams in what is shapes up as a very solid class considering the recent coaching change in Lexington.
Patterson, who played in the McDonald's All-America game in Louisville and the Jordan Brand Game at New York's Madison Square Garden, was a four-year all-stater and the state Player of the Year as a junior. He was runnerup for the top honor as a senior to All-American teammate, and EA SPORTS National Player of the Year, O.J. Mayo.
Patterson averaged 17 points, 12 rebounds and four blocked shots a game for the 25-2 record Highlanders, which is regarded by some veteran observers as West Virginia's best-ever team.