HOOPS: August Is Thinking Time For Patterson

There are two more AAU tournaments left on Patrick Patterson's summer schedule and then he'll have time to do some things he really wants and needs to do --- things like getting serious in the weight room and more importantly, things like seriously thinking about where he's going to be playing college basketball in 2007. Right now, there's just no time to figure things out.

(See Patrick Patterson profile)

His schedule has been filled with camps and AAU tournaments since the spring but only the AAU Super Showcase (July 23-26) and then the AAU Nationals (July 27-August 1), both at the Walt Disney World sports complex in Orlando remain on the agenda. He plays for the Boo Williams team based out of Norfolk, Virginia, a team that's quite capable of putting together a championship run. He helped Boo Williams make the final four of the Nike Peach Jam just last week in North Augusta, South Carolina and only three points stood in the way of a berth in the championship game.

At every stop along the way, he's watched carefully by head coaches and assistants from nearly every big time program in the country. Even though he won't come right out and name a final five, most experts think Kentucky, Wake Forest, Florida and Duke will make the cut. North Carolina has been making a strong recent push and no one would be surprised if that's one of the final five.

The teams that do make the final list will be decided upon in August.

"I'll use that as a thinking time and then I'll start taking visits in September," said a 6-8, 235-pound intimidator that wows crowds with his shot blocking and rebounding.

He plans to complete the recruiting process during the early signing period in November but before he gets there, he will take advantage of five weekend visits on college campuses.

"I'm going to take all five official visits," he said. "I really couldn't name all five right now, but I'll make that decision and then I'll take all of them."

He is using this time before the last two AAU tournaments to workout daily at the Huntington (WV) YMCA where he is concentrating on improving his jump shot, improving his ball handling and hitting the weight room. His goal is go get his bench press over 300 pounds by the time his high school season starts in November.

The decision about which schools to visit will be a team effort that includes his dad, Big Pat, and his mother, Tywanna. Tywanna Patterson has become a real student of the recruiting process, also. She admits that she tends to look at things the way that only a mother can.

"You know how mothers are," she said. "We nurture our boys. Daddies have that relationship with the girls but mama's are almost always closer with the boys. You're a little girls always to daddy but a boy to mama is always the baby. Imagine there's Patrick and he's 6-8 and someone saying 'you're still a baby.' Well, he might not want me to say something like this but I don't care how big he gets, he's still my baby and he's always going to be my baby."

Because most of the schools that Patrick is considering are a pretty good distance from their West Virginia home, she wants to be doubly sure that she sees eye to eye with a coach that understands the goals and priorities. Patrick has a 3.5 GPA and it's always been no grades, no play at his home.

"First off, the coach needs to be concerned with his academics," said Tywanna Patterson, "and that means more than just talking about them. We need to see a serious commitment to players getting their degree.

"Secondly, the coach needs to be the kind that relates well to all his players. I want to see how he relates and how the players relate to him. We're turning him over to someone for four years and whoever that is needs to be someone that thinks of Patrick as something more than just a basketball player that's helping to win games."

Who she turns her son over for four years is very important for Tywanna Patterson. She feels that by the time Patrick gets to college he will have a firm foundation of right, wrong, goal setting and decision making. She expects Patrick's college coach to be the kind that will help him make the final preparations before he steps out into the real world totally on his own.

"At Huntington High there was a banquet this spring and Coach Billy Donovan talked," she said. "I really liked what he had to say. He was thanking the people who shaped his life and helped him become the person he is today. He thanked his dad and some of his coaches and then he started thanking the people you might think he's forgotten about but they were people who helped him along the way.

"I thought about that after it was over and I really liked that he understands what is important and he understands that he didn't get to where he's at in life without the help of a lot of people and he hasn't ever forgotten all the people who contributed to what he is. Now see, that's the kind of thing I look at in all the coaches that have talked to us. I want to see honesty. I want to see sincerity. I want to see coaches that remember where they came from and the people who helped them get there. That's the kind of person I want my son to grow up to be."

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