UK Basketball Summer Report: Patrick Sparks

The Wildcat basketball team has been hard at work in Lexington this summer and are hoping it calculates into more "W"'s this fall. In this in-depth summer analysis, we go beyond the call of duty and take a look at what the Wildcats will bring on the floor this winter. We begin our series with the Wildcats' team captain and leader, junior Patrick Sparks.

He's been the subject of conversation across the Bluegrass state since the moment he officially announced he was transferring to Kentucky from Western Kentucky, one year ago.

After sitting out last season, Patrick Sparks is ready to take center stage as the Wildcats point guard of the future.

And his play this summer has illustrated just that.

"He's the complete point guard," current NBA scout and former SEC assistant coach told Inside Kentucky. "I've known Tubby for years and to see him talk about Patrick is like listening to a father talk about his son."

"He says Patrick has got all the intangibles and in particular, the ones you can't teach your point guard. The ones that point guards are born with and you can't instill. He leads by example, he's unselfish, and he makes others around him better."

And this summer has been no exception. With Sparks handling the duties at point guard, the Wildcats have looked like they won't miss a beat from last year's SEC Championship.

With his lightning quick release and uncanny ability to shoot off the dribble, it appears Sparks has not lost a step since he last stepped on the court two years ago.

"Kentucky has been lacking that go-to guy since Tayshaun left and with Patrick, they'll finally have somebody that can handle the ball in crunch time and make clutch plays."

In a recent pickup game I had the opportunity to watch, Sparks was everything that he was described to be and more. After watching the younger, flashier Rajon Rondo split the defense twice, Sparks calmy stopped the quick run with a higlight real of "facials," within a 6 minute span that quickly pushed the freshmen back into his place.

"He'll get into these spurts where you can't help but just stop and watch," Cliff Hawkins described last year. "He's tough."

Even with tight defense in his face and multiple attempts from Joe Crawford to double-team the transfer, Sparks found ways to give himself and his team chances to score. It's that patience and confidence in himself and the offense that makes him such a pure point guard and leader.

It isn't necessarily the prettiest at times, but is without a doubt the most attractive trait in which he possesses.

As far as his shot is concerned, it is without a doubt the best stroke on the team; "It's such a quick release, it's almost an impossible shot to block," Hawkins stated. "He doesn't need to be the quick guy on the court; he just needs an inch of space and he'll drain it."

Sparks with Rondo looks to be the best tandom of the summer. That isn't necessarily a knock on his court relationship with Crawford, but more the visible abilities of both to not only play within themselves, but make plays for their teammates.

And you can never underestimate how valuable two ball handlers is on the court. Even when guys aren't moving and the defense is hanging tough, two ball handlers can find ways to get people open and find the holes in the defense.

And the bonus of Sparks' dependable stroke from the outside makes him such a tough point guard to defend.

With Kentucky basketball facing the tough questions after a disappointing finish of a year ago, it's safe to say the hands of the program and the eyes of the green freshmen are on the right man.

That man is Patrick Sparks and if you haven't been introduced to his abilities, get ready to catch your breath.

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