Examining Patterson's reasons for return

Patterson's withdrawal from the NBA draft could have a huge impact on college basketball in 2009-2010; but his return could have a much bigger impact on the Wildcats in the long term.

The UK release had a title that was quite benign announcing the return of Patrick Patterson, the release stated "Patterson Returning to Kentucky."

When you look at the context of Patterson's return you find that the return of this one player may swing the balance of power in the conference, and the nation next season. Of greater importance could be the lasting impact this gesture imprints on Kentucky basketball for seasons to come.

Patterson's statement in the release was short, but spoke volumes. "I have the chance to graduate in three years, which is important to me and my family," Patterson said. "I want to help Kentucky compete for a national title, and even more than that win its eighth national championship. I'm also really excited about playing for Coach Cal and developing my game in the dribble drive offense."

There's a lot of information contained within that statement. Let's examine it a little at a time.

Patterson has the opportunity to graduate in three years, just as fellow Cat Michael Porter is doing this year. That says a great deal about the CATS program at UK, and the academic guidance provided to the athletes who choose to attend Kentucky. Coupled with the recent APR honors by the men's basketball squad these things say loud and proud that UK has put the student at the forefront of the student athlete's college experience.

Patterson clearly states his goals in returning to Kentucky for his junior season.

Patterson discuses goals of competing for and winning a national title. Maybe more important than merely stating the goals is the way Patterson went about showing his desire to achieve those goals by returning to Kentucky. Patrick opted not to workout for any NBA squad. As a likely mid first round pick he placed the team's achievement and welfare above his own.

I don't think anyone would have blamed Patterson for taking a guaranteed first round contract and achieving a lifetime of financial stability for his family. Patterson is taking a risk by returning, betting that a career ending injury will not take away that financial stability his family would have had if he had remained in the draft and gone midway through the first round as predicted.

Finally, Patrick's statement is a huge endorsement of John Calipari. Patrick obviously thinks playing a year under Calipari will improve his NBA stock, and improve his overall basketball skills.

What does it say to recruits when a likely sure first round NBA pick gives the NBA a pass in favor of playing for Calipari?

What will it say to recruits if Patterson's draft stock improves in the next year, and he ends up a lottery selection under Calipari's tutelage?

Patterson was an All-SEC performer last season, and he was the only player in the SEC to rank in the top five in scoring (17.9 ppg) and rebounding (9.3 rpg). Patterson led the SEC in double-doubles last season with 15, which is the eighth most in a single season in UK history.

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