The best part about Patrick Patterson’s visit to Gainesville over the weekend was when the Florida basketball team got their national championship rings before the Gators’ football game with UCF. Patterson already knew The Swamp was a loud place but when 90,210 fans stood on their feet and erupted in unison to cheer the basketball team, it was a roar like nothing he had ever heard.
“When they got awarded the rings, The Swamp got loud … really loud,” said Patterson, the 6-8-1/2, 235-pound power forward from Huntington, West Virginia, rated five stars by Scout.com and the number 11 player overall nationally. “I’ve been to a football game at Tennessee before, but it wasn’t as loud as The Swamp.”
Patterson arrived in Gainesville Thursday night with his parents so he could spend the entire day Friday touring the Florida campus and checking out the academic facilities. Patterson has a 3.6 grade point average and he’s planning to major in computer science so academics are a very important part of the equation.
“They have a plan for me,” said Patterson, who said he was shown how he could graduate in three years as well as the course schedule for four years. “The academic side that I saw was very good. They take the academics very seriously and I like that.”
The academic emphasis also impressed Patrick’s mother, Tywanna Patterson.
“You can tell that the academics are very important to Coach Donovan,” said Tywanna Patterson, who said she felt very comfortable with Florida, both academically and for basketball. “He’s interested in the whole person, not just the basketball player and that was important for us. We’re very comfortable with how they do that.”
Donovan made a tremendous impression on Patrick and his mom and dad. They spent plenty of time with the Florida coach over the weekend, but dinner at Donovan’s home and time spent with him at the football game really stood out to them.
“We ate dinner at Coach Donovan’s house and his wife, the coaches, their wives and all the players were there,” said Patrick. “I’m really impressed with the way they all get along so well. They had this big dinner for us and it was fun, really relaxed.
“You got the feeling that it really is a family at Florida. It really is a family atmosphere and I like that. Coach Donovan is a great guy and I like his personality and the way he likes to hang out with his guys. You can tell they’re really happy to have him around, too. Watching the guys having fun with Coach Donovan’s son playing video games …you just felt it’s a good place to hang around and the guys on the team really like it.”
Tywanna Patterson saw for herself that the family atmosphere that she has heard so much about at Florida is for real.
“This was the first time I really had a chance to meet everybody,” said Tywanna Patterson. “These coaches are all very good people and they all are so family-oriented. It’s not just on the court, but afterward, too. The players know they’re welcome at Coach Donovan’s house and I thought that was impressive.
“They all get along so well. It really is a team thing. It’s like a family. All these people have great character and that impresses me a lot.”
She also met Taurean Green’s parents along with the parents of Florida commit Nick Calathes. She laughed when she talked about meeting Gator senior power forward Chris Richard for the first time.
“I said oh my goodness look at all those muscles,” she said. “He’s huge and he’s so sweet.”
At the football game, a steady stream of well wishers and Donovan never seemed fazed by all the attention.
“Coach Donovan is amazing,” she said. “Some people came by and asked him to hold their babies while they took pictures with him. He was nice to all of them and then he would turn and apologize to us for taking time and attention away. We just said you do what you need to do. We were watching and enjoying it. We got to see that he’s really down to earth. These are the kind of people that we like.”
While Donovan was entertaining Big Pat and Tywanna Patterson, Patrick was hanging around with Joakim Noah, Al Horford, Corey Brewer and Taurean Green along with Florida commits Nick Calathes and Chandler Parsons.
“Jo’s like a rock star on campus,” said Patrick. “He’s absolutely amazing and girls just love him. All the guys on the team are really good guys. I like how close they are with each other. Nick was there and I hung out with him and Chandler. Those are two great guys, too.”
Asked if he is paying attention to the incoming recruits at the schools on his final list of favorites, Patterson responded, “Yes I am. That’s important to me.”
Patterson said he enjoyed the campus, the game day atmosphere, the coaches and team and especially the warm weather.
“The weather is great,” he said. “The fans, the people you meet at Florida … just the whole atmosphere is really great. I would rate the visit a 10 for sure.”
Tywanna Patterson shared Patrick’s sentiments.
“Everything and everybody was so nice,” she said. “It was an excellent visit for us. We’re looking forward to coming back again. It’s an exciting place. We even ate gator meat. My husband ordered it and it was really good. It really does taste like chicken, just a lot more chewy.”