Kentucky Coach John Calipari told a group of high school coaches on Friday that star big man Patrick Patterson will be playing his final season for the Wildcats in 2009-10.
Speaking to the Kentucky Association of Basketball Coaches, Calipari said his first UK team’s experience consisted of “three seniors and Patrick Patterson, who will leave this year. Hopefully he’ll be a top 10 pick.”
That Patterson would leave after his junior season comes as no surprise. But it was also interesting that Calipari gave himself no wiggle room.
Patterson averaged 17.9 points and 9.3 rebounds as a sophomore last season. He recorded 15 double-doubles, topped the 1,000-poiint career scoring mark and made the All-Southeastern Conference first team.
Although projected as a first-round draft choice, Patterson chose to return to UK for this coming season. He said he wanted to improve his perimeter skills while acknowledging that at 6-foot-9 he would be unlikely to be a consistent scorer in the low post against NBA competition.
Calipari expressed mixed feelings about Patterson as a face-the-basket player.
“I better teach him how to play out (on the floor),” the UK coach said before adding, “But I’m trying to win, too.”
As he had said before, Calipari noted how Patterson would be stationed in the low post at the end of close games.
“I tell Patrick, ‘Play like a guard,’ ” Calipari said. “When the game’s on the line, (his teammates) will all be saying, ‘Get under the goal, Patrick.’ ”
Patterson, a native of Huntington, W.Va., came to UK as the long-sought-after power forward. He was a McDonald’s All-American after leading Huntington High to three straight West Virginia 3A state championships.
Patterson goes into this coming season still seeking to play in a NCAA Tournament. An ankle injury ended his freshman season. He watched from the bench as the Cats lost to Marquette in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.
UK failed to receive a bid to the NCAA Tournament last season.
Calipari re-stocked Kentucky’s front line this off-season. He re-recruited Daniel Orton, who originally signed with former Coach Billy Gillispie. Calipari also brought in highly regarded freshman DeMarcus Cousins.
In his talk to the coaches, Calipari suggested that he might have some issues with Cousins regarding the big man being around the basket or on the perimeter.
In a recent scrimmage, Cousins had at least 20 points and 20 rebounds. That prompted Calipari to say he told the freshman, “You were a beast. . . . Are you that good? Because if you are that good, it’s starting to get scary.”
After Cousins thanked the coach, Calipari said he added, “But your body language (stunk).”
Cousins then explained. “It’s how you’re plaing me,” he told Calipari. “You know my skills are out on the floor.”
To which Calipari told the coaches, “He thinks that’s what people want to see from a 6-11, 270 (player).”
Calipari offered a compromise.
The UK coach told his audience, “I may tell him with every 10 rebounds, I’ll let you go to the top of the key and go crazy.”