VAUGHT: Stansbury knows Patterson is special

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. -- Mississippi State coach Rick Stansbury is a Kentucky native who still closely follows the Kentucky basketball program even though he has to coach, and recruit, against the Wildcats. Yet there's no way Stansbury can even start to hide his enthusiasm over the way sophomore Patrick Patterson plays for the Wildcats.

"What is really rare about him is to come back for a sophomore year. If he had not had that injury, he would have been gone (to the NBA)," Stansbury said Wednesday during the SEC Media Days. "For all Kentucky fans that think he will be back his junior year, they can forget that, too. He is going to be one of the better players in the country. When they get that good, I haven't seen many that go back to college.

"If he stays away from injuries and is the player he was last year, and he probably should be even better now, he has to go to the NBA. You don't see many guys possess the attitude, toughness, and both mental and physical strength he has in the college game nowadays. That is what makes him so difficult to defend and guard."

Stansbury knows every player has flaws and weaknesses in his game. But he says it's hard to fault anything Patterson did last year.

"He has to continue to expand his game like every player does, but he got to where he made that 15-footer last year. If he keeps expanding his game, and I am sure he has worked on that to where there is no weakness, then he is going to be the best big guy in the league this year. Who else would be better a big guy in our league with the combination of things he does?" Stansbury said.

That's easy. There is no one.

Stansbury watched Patterson play often during his prep career. He could tell then Patterson would be special.

"I thought he was one of the best kids coming out of high school and everybody anticipated him being that good. It's very obvious he was as tough as people anticipated last year," Stansbury said. "He is a tough kid. You see some kids play in AAU and stuff and then you get them as a coach and squeeze them and they react differently, but it is very obvious that when Billy Gillispie squeezed him he got tougher and tougher. He's absolutely a load. He is relentless on the backboard. Those guys are very difficult to contain and he sure is."

Stansbury has just one regret about Patterson.

"You would love to have him on your team. Those kind of kids don't come around very often that possess everything he has, and those that do won't stay very long in college. Every coach would like to have a Patrick Patterson," Stansbury said. "It's very seldom that you get a chance to coach a kid like that for two years in today's climate with kids leaving for the NBA. So that makes him more rare and special."

AllWildcats Top Stories