Patterson proves it with defensive flurry

ORLANDO — In the span of 10 seconds, Patrick Patterson showed why he’s the most sought after power forward in the country Monday afternoon at the AAU Junior Boys National Championships. With a trip to the semifinals on the line, Patterson rejected three Nike Team Florida shots in the final moments of the game to lead Boo Williams to a 72-71 win.

Team Florida still had one last shot at a win, but Nick Calathes long three-pointer as the clock ticked down to zero rimmed out, allowing Boo Williams to escape with the win. In the evening semifinals against Albany (NY) City Rocks, Patterson turned in another dominating performance to lead Boo Williams to a 74-59 win and a berth in the championship game against D-1 Greyhounds of Cincinnati.

D-1 got into the finals by beating North Carolina Gaters, 56-37, in the afternoon, then trouncing Minnesota Magic Gold, 62-44 in the evening. The championship game is scheduled to go at 2:30 p.m. at Disney’s Wide World of Sports complex.

Patterson, who has Florida and Kentucky on a list of favorites that includes Duke and North Carolina, didn’t miss a shot Monday. Against Team Florida, he was 7-7 from the field with four dunks and against City Rocks, he was 8-8 with five dunks.

He had 14 points, eight rebounds, six blocked shots and two steals in the win over Team Florida. Against City Rocks, he had 16 points, 10 rebounds and four blocked shots.

D-1 got 21 points from O.J. Mayo in its win over North Carolina Gaters. Florida commitment Alex Tyus had eight points in the first game.

Tyus came through in a big way for D-1 in the semifinals. He had 20 points, 13 rebounds and four blocked shots, hitting 10-16 from the field. Tyus had six dunks including a pair of rim rattlers to finish fast breaks.

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Calathes finished up his AAU career with two brilliant performances in losing efforts. He had 34 points in the afternoon loss to Boo Williams. He hit his first five three-pointers in that game, extending his streak to nine straight from beyond the arc. He hit his last four three-pointers Sunday evening in a win over All-Ohio.

Additionally, Calathes had five rebounds, three assists and two steals against Boo Williams.

In the loser’s bracket game in the night cap, Calathes got hot in the second half to lead Team Florida on a torrid comeback from a 17-point halftime deficit against Jacksonville Lee Bulls. Calathes scored 42 points as Team Florida took the Bulls into overtime, but the Jacksonville team prevailed, 104-102, behind 26 points by Dontae Anderson (Gainesville Eastside), who is rapidly making his way up the Class of 2008 recruiting charts.

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In Team Florida’s quarter-final matchup with Boo Williams, Chandler Parsons faced a double team nearly every time he touched the ball. Parsons had 40 and 25 in his two Sunday games, so the Boo Williams strategy was to let Calathes get his points, choke off Parsons and force the other three players on the floor to win the game for Team Florida.

Parsons only got off 10 shots but he compensated for a lack of scoring (11 points) by filling up the stat sheet. He had nine rebounds, seven assists and a pair of steals.

In the evening game against Jacksonville Lee Bulls, Parsons scored 22 points.

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Parsons has put together a brilliant summer run, taking his game to a whole new level. In the process, he’s been offered more than 40 scholarships including most of the schools in the Southeastern Conference.

LSU and Arizona State have probably recruited the skinny 6-9 forward harder than anyone else although Oklahoma, Miami, Alabama, Tennessee, Georgia and West Virginia have worked the Lake Howell High School product very hard. It’s no secret that Parsons has been hoping for an offer from the University of Florida and it’s very likely that will happen in the next two or three days.

When the summer began, Parsons was considered a good, but not necessarily big time recruit. That all changed with one big scoring effort after another against some of the nation’s top teams on the AAU circuit. He followed up an outstanding Nike camp with a brilliant effort at Peach Jam in Augusta prior to the big effort at the AAU nationals.

Nobody thinks Parsons rides the coattails of Calathes anymore. He’s his own man and a big time recruit that is certain to rise higher than his current number 86 national ranking. If Parsons commits to the Gators (expected if and when the offer is extended), he will join Calathes, 6-4 Gary Clark of Sarasota Booker, 6-8 Adam Allen of Milton and Tyus (Cincinnati Harmony Christian) in the Florida recruiting class. Florida is expected to sign six in this recruiting class.

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Calathes probably earned his way into the McDonald’s All-America game with his last four games in the AAU nationals. He had games of 21 (to go with 13 assists), 29 (including four straight three-pointers in the fourth quarter), 34 and 42 points.

Calathes has grown to nearly 6-6 and he’s a tremendous passer in addition to being the one of the most deadly three-point shooters in the country. More than one Division I basketball coach has remarked that Calathes has that rare ability to make everyone on the team a better player when he’s on the floor.

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When the D-1 Greyhounds take the floor, you have to wonder if there are enough basketballs to go around with players like O.J. Mayo, Billy Walker (although injured and out since Saturday), Dallas Lauderdale and Aaron Pogue. Still, Tyus has gotten his points even though the ball is rarely passed his way.

Tyus has had a four game stretch of 22, 22, 8 and 20 points with most of them coming on dunks after offensive rebounds. He’s a long, lean 6-9, 210 pounds and he’s very athletic. Tyus runs the floor extremely well and his arms are so long that he could easily add another 25-35 pounds of upper body muscle without losing any quickness.

His performance over the last two days has prompted more than one Division I head coach to drop by where Billy Donovan is sitting to congratulate the Florida coach on another outstanding recruiting pickup. The general consensus is that Tyus could prove to be another Al Horford for the Gators.

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Distance won’t be a problem for Patrick Patterson when he makes his final decision.

“I work for the federal government and Pat (Patrick’s dad) is a manager of a Super Wal-Mart,” said Tywanna Patterson Monday afternoon. “Wherever he goes, we can transfer close by.”

Patterson and his family will be making an official visit to Florida on September 9 when the Gators play host to UCF in football. At halftime of that game, Florida’s NCAA basketball champions will be awarded their rings for winning the 2006 national title.

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.