Prep Phenom Patterson Chooses Wildcats

By: April Vitello, Associated Press
By: April Vitello, Associated Press

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. — Huntington High power forward Patrick Patterson announced he chose Kentucky over Florida on Wednesday, the last day of the Division I signing period.

The 6-foot-8 Patterson helped lead the Highlanders to an unprecedented three-straight Class AAA championships, the last with the help of O.J. Mayo, who will attend Southern California in the fall. The two led Huntington to a 25-2 record and a national ranking this past season.

Earlier this week, McDonald's All-American Jai Lucas, the son of former NBA star John Lucas, decided to attend Florida instead of Kentucky, so landing the highly touted Patterson was vital to new Wildcats coach Billy Gillispie's first recruiting class.

"We're grateful he chose to extend his recruitment to the last day of the signing period because it gave us a chance to develop a relationship and that's the most important part of recruiting," Gillispie said in a statement.

Four other programs courted Patterson: Duke, Virginia, Wake Forest and West Virginia.

Patterson said he chose Kentucky because he wanted to be close to his family.

"I wanted to stay close to home, I didn't want to have to move my family to Jacksonville," Patterson said. "The key thing was distance. I do get homesick a lot."

Both of his parents were by his side at Huntington High's gymnasium when he announced his decision.

"I do like Florida a lot and my parents were willing to move to Florida for me. I just didn't want to move my family there to start over," Patterson said.

Patterson's senior season was his best . He averaged 17 points, 12 rebounds and four blocks.

He had 14 points and seven blocks in Huntington's 103-61 victory over South Charleston in this year's Class AAA title game.

He was the state's 2006 Player of the Year and this year had 63 votes to Mayo's 93. Both were also selected to the McDonald's All-American team and to the Class AAA all-state first team.

Kentucky fan and alumnus Ken O'Roark, who lives in Huntington and attended Wednesday's news conference, said Patterson will be good for the Wildcats.

"I think this is potentially the biggest recruit we have signed in 20 plus years since Rex Chapman," O'Roark said. "I am elated and I think he made a great decision. He will be adored and loved by UK fans for his tenure at UK and forever."

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