VAUGHT: Odom is a Patterson backer

South Carolina coach Dave Odom knows plenty about basketball and has always been an avid observer of the Kentucky basketball program.

Often when former coach Tubby Smith was criticized, Odom was there to defend him. Earlier this year when many were wondering what was wrong with new coach Billy Gillispie, Odom said it was too early to panic and that Kentucky would still be a force in SEC play this year — and obviously he was right.

That's what the praise he threw at Kentucky freshman Patrick Patterson after the Wildcats beat his team was genuine, and very, very insightful. He boldly said that Patterson was the best freshman post player — not the best freshman, but the best freshman post player — he had seen at Kentucky.

So what makes Patterson so good?

"It's hard to plan for him. He's well coached, and was in high school, too. If you watch tapes of games in November and December, he's a different player now," Odom said. "He's really come of age. He's the best low post presence we have seen this year. (A.J.) Oglivy (of Vanderbilt) is close to that. He's better than Richard Hendrix (of Alabama) was as a freshman.

"He's so skilled. He has good footwork. He's strong. He shoots adequately from 15 feet. He runs the court well. He has endurance and stamina. He plays smart. He doesn't foul. He has the whole package and he's only going to get better."

So why do so many college basketball analysts not have Patterson rated among the top 10 freshmen this season?

"They should have. If there are 10 freshmen better than him, I would like to see them," Odom said. "Trust me, he's special. I've seen a lot of basketball players, but this kid is going to really be something."

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