PEACH JAM: Patterson Dominates On Defense

NORTH AUGUSTA, S.C. --- With Billy Donovan, Tubby Smith, Roy Williams and a host of other head coaches watching, Patrick Patterson turned in the kind of defensive performance Friday evening that could only ratchet up his already soaring recruiting stock. Patterson didn't have much of an offensive game going, but he didn't have to. His defense and rebounding said it all.

It was the quarter-finals of the Nike Peach Jam and all Patterson did was take over the paint in the second half to help lead Boo Williams of Norfolk, Virginia to a come-from-behind win over Houston Hoops. Patterson only took six shots in the game and four of those were follows after an offensive rebound. He finished with only five points, meager numbers for sure, but he snatched 12 rebounds, blocked eight shots, altered at least a dozen more and basically made it possible for Boo Williams to rally from as much as 13 points down.

"I didn't score too much but that's okay, we won," said Patterson, the number 15 ranked player in the nation by "I helped my team with rebounding and defense and we won, so that's all that really matters."

Patterson had a spectacular block in the second half, rejecting Houston's 6-8 Gary Johnson who had beaten Ed Davis on the baseline. Patterson slid down from the high post to spike the Davis shot like a volleyball, setting up a fast break that was finished by Glen Andrews on the other end, giving Boo Williams its first lead of the game.

He had another outstanding block disallowed when he was called for a foul with his body. Patterson was clearly a foot above Houston's 6-9 Isaiah Rusher when he roofed him, blocking the shot with his elbows.

"I didn't think I got him but I guess the official saw something," said Patterson.

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Jai Lucas may not have prototypical size (listed 5-10 but more like 5-9 and that might even be a stretch) but his stock keeps rising as well. In the quarter-final game with Boo Williams, Lucas consistently proved too quick and too agile for the press. He broke the press on the dribble and rarely allowed the double team to get to him.

He also showed a willingness to take tough shots at the end of the game. With less than 30 seconds remaining in the game, Lucas twice knocked down three-pointers to bring Houston Hoops back within a couple of points.

"He knows how to win," said an assistant coach from one major program. "Maybe he's not the biggest guy out there and he doesn't have the size you might want, but he's a coach's son and he's grown up playing the game. He understands what it takes to play the game, and more importantly, he knows what it takes to win games."

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Most coaches agree that forward Tim Flowers of Mean Streets Express (high school team is Chicago Simeon where he is a teammate of Derrick Rose, the nation's number three rated prospect by would have NBA written all over him if he were just a little bit taller. Flowers has a lot of Barkley in his game in more ways than one. Barkley was listed 6-6 but in reality was a little over 6-4. Flowers is generously listed at 6-5 but he's a short 6-4 or a tall 6-3 depending on how you look at things.

The lack of height is offset by the fact that Flowers is very quick off his feet and he has powerful hands, probably the strongest hands of any inside player in the tournament. Against players four, five or six inches taller, he has been a dominating rebounder and scorer throughout the week. He's 230 pounds so nobody pushes him around. He's learned to use his quickness and good footwork to get loose under the basket so he's rarely been stuffed.

"I can't see him ever in the NBA because of his height but I could see him in the NFL," said one coach.

"With those hands, I could see him as a tight end," said Fox Sports/'s Jeff Goodman.

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While experts are debating the merits of point guards Derrick Rose (Mean Streets Express) and Tyreke Evans (Team Final, class of 2008) or who can shoot better than Mean Streets' Eric Gordon, the player that has impressed everyone as the ultimate franchise player is 6-9 Kyle Singler of Medford, Oregon, playing for Portland Legends.

He's got three-point range on his jumper and while he isn't a truly dominating rebounder, he shows good instincts going for the ball and has strong enough hands that once he gets his mitts on the ball, the fight is over.

He's got Kansas, Duke, North Carolina, UCLA and Washington on his list of suitors.

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My top 10 players for the tournament in no particularly order are: Patrick Patterson (Boo Williams), Kyle Singler (Portland Legends), Tyreke Evans (Team Final), Derrick Rose (Mean Streets Express), Jamine Patterson (Metro Hawks), Eric Gordon (Mean Streets Express), Gary Johnson (Houston Hoops), Nick Calathes (Team Florida), Chandler Parsons (Team Florida) and Willie Warren (Team Texas).

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