Franz Beard’s Basketball Confidential

Florida’s recruiting class of 2007 came to an abrupt end at 3:45 Wednesday when Patrick Patterson of Huntington, West Virginia — the last McDonald’s All-American standing — selected the Kentucky Wildcats over the Gators. It was a long, hard fought recruiting battle decided in the last 48 hours and it wasn’t a complete shock to Coach Billy Donovan when Patterson announced for Big Blue.

This was supposed to be a three-team fight to the finish but by last weekend, Duke was pretty much out of the picture. Patterson admitted Wednesday that there are internal issues at Duke and he didn’t like the way the players seem divided. It has also been known for a long time that Patrick had issues with Taylor King, one of the jewels of Duke’s recruiting class, a 6-7 forward out of Los Angeles.

That left Florida and Kentucky and as late as Sunday night, it appeared the Gators were rock solid. Monday afternoon when Jai Lucas announced for Florida it appeared all the stars had aligned but that’s when the Patterson camp clammed up. By Tuesday afternoon, communication between the Pattersons and the Florida staff ground to a halt and word started trickling in that Kentucky had made up plenty of ground. Even Jai Lucas and John Lucas were having trouble getting in touch with the Pattersons.

By mid-Wednesday morning, when there was no communication from the Pattersons, other sources started telling the Florida staff that Patrick had decided on Kentucky. O.J. Mayo (Southern Cal recruit), who played with Patrick at Huntington this year, told people around noon that it was Kentucky and word got to the Florida staff, confirming what they had heard from other sources in Huntington.

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Franz Beard
Back in January of 1969, the late, great Jack Hairston, then the sports editor of the Jacksonville Journal, called me on the phone one night and asked me if I wanted to work for him. I said yes. The entire interview took 30 seconds. It's my experience that whenever the interview lasts 30 seconds or less, I get the job. In the 48 years that I've been writing and getting paid for it, I've covered Super Bowls, World Series, NCAA basketball championships, BCS championship games, heavyweight title fights and what seems like thousands of college football, baseball and basketball games. I'm a columnist and special assignments editor for Gator Country once again, writing about the only team that ever mattered to me, the Florida Gators.