Patterson chooses Kentucky over Gators

The last McDonald’s All-American standing picked the Kentucky Wildcats over the Florida Gators in a Wednesday afternoon press conference at his high school gymnasium in Huntington, West Virginia. Patrick Patterson, the 6-8, 240-pound power forward made his decision public to the delight of a pro-Kentucky crowd at the gym.

Patterson’s decision is huge for Kentucky, which has a new coach in Billy Gillispie. Gillispie was able to persuade shooting guard Alex Legion of Oak Hill Academy and Patterson in the last couple of weeks to put an exclamation point on his recruiting class. Patterson joins Legion, 6-8 A.J. Stewart and 7-0 Mike Williams in the Kentucky recruiting class.

Patterson said he decided Tuesday and the deciding factor was distance.

“I’d like people to be able to come see me play at Kentucky and distance was the factor,” he said. Patterson said it was very difficult to turn down Florida coach Billy Donovan and Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski of Duke. Patterson added that he didn’t want to see his family uprooted to move to Jacksonville just so they could be close enough to see him play.

“I liked everything about Florida but the thing that they came up short was the distance factor,” said Patterson.

Patterson averaged 17 points and 12 rebounds a game as a senior, leading Huntington High School to its third straight state championship.

Florida’s recruiting class, ranked in the top five at the beginning of the week, will probably move up to second or third with Jai Lucas choosing the Gators on Monday. Had Patterson selected Florida, the Gators would have certainly been ranked number one. The Gators will probably be ranked third in most final rankings.

Florida’s recruiting class is finished now with Lucas, the 5-10 point guard from Houston Bellaire, 6-6 Nick Calathes and 6-9 Chandler Parsons of Lake Howell, 6-7 Adam Allen of Milton, and 6-9 Alex Tyus of St. Louis and Cincinnati’s Harmony Christian Prep.

“It’s been a difficult one and a well thought out one and it was his decision,” said Tywanna Patterson, Patrick’s mother after the announcement.

“It’s a great day for the Pattersons and a great day for Huntington,” added his dad, Buster Patterson.

Previous articleGator Country adds Swampie to the lineup
Next articleFranz Beard’s Basketball Confidential
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.