VAUGHT: Gillispie has his signature recruit

Every coach needs a signature recruit -- and now Billy Gillispie has one at Kentucky. Adding Patrick Patterson to his first Kentucky team was a huge move for Gillispie, much like landing Jamal Mashburn was for Rick Pitino early at UK. Getting Mashburn laid the groundwork for three Final Fours -- and one national title -- for Pitino because it proved he was capable of rebuilding the UK program.

Signing Patterson could do the same for Gillispie.

Convincing Alex Legion to join the program earlier was nice, but signing Patterson is huge. It clearly sends the message that Gillispie is as good as advertised when it comes to recruiting and reinforces the perception that he can restock the talent level at UK that had slipped under Tubby Smith.

Patterson's arrival will help get the attention of top 2008 and 2009 recruits. It will get the attention of national media members. It certainly will breathe even more passion into the Kentucky fan base that desperately wants to see the Cats back in the Final Four.

How good is Patterson? That remains to be seen. But he is much more highly ranked than Mashburn was even though his offensive game does not seem quite as polished. However, watching Patterson play in all-star games recently it was obvious that he is a team player, doesn't mind rebounding and will play defense. He also didn't mind having media darling O.J. Mayo arrive at Huntington for his senior year and steal much of the spotlight from him. Again, that tells me he is a team player and won't have to be pampered in college like some high school stars need to be.

Patterson's signing gives UK needed inside muscle for next year to go with Jared Carter and Perry Stevenson. The Cats are going to be loaded on the perimeter and will have two big-time shooters -- Jodie Meeks and Legion -- to go with two proven veterans -- Ramel Bradley and Joe Crawford. Adding Jai Lucas would have been nice, but there's no way anyone can complain about getting Legion and Patterson.

Kentucky would have survived without Patterson. Gillispie could still have put UK back in the national championship chase without Patterson. But signing Patterson means that championship hunt can start a lot quicker just as it did when Pitino snared Mashburn.

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