Basketball Ups and Downs

Tennessee may be falling out of the battle for Saginaw, Mich., center Josh Southern, but the Vols have gained ground in the competition for Patrick Patterson, who is rated the nation's No. 4 power forward by Scout.com, and is arguably the fastest rising basketball prospect in the country.

Bruce Pearl & Partners have made a concerted effort to pull into the lead pack for Patterson's prodigious post services, but there's still plenty of elite company including: Clemson, Duke, Florida, Kentucky, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Pittsburgh, Virginia, Wake Forest, West Virginia Tech, Connecticut, Louisville and Virginia.

As late as a week ago the Vols appeared to be trailing the formidable field vying for Patrick Patterson's signature. However in his most recent interviews the 6-foot-8, 234-pound Huntington, W.Va., senior indicates he doesn't have a leader.

"Right now I've got about 12 schools on my list and I have to cut that down to five," Patterson told Scout.com's Dave Telep. "We're going to sit down and make a list of schools and write down what we don't and do like about them. Then by the end of August I'll have five schools to make officials to."

With officials already planned for Florida and Duke, the Vols are contending with the remaining 10 colleges for three visits. Those aren't good odds but Pearl has proven he can overcome the odds and Patterson is a prize worth pursuing.

He saw his stock skyrocket during the spring and summer with outstanding play in AAU tournaments as well as premiere basketball camps such as the Nike Camp and Peach Jam.

"I really stepped up and played well against bigger and tougher competition," Patterson said. "I performed pretty well against the top name guys."

In the AAU national semifinals, Patterson demonstrated his value on defense by swatting away a pair of potential game-winning shots before the final buzzer. He went on to have another solid showing in the championship contest, building on a junior campaign Incrementally Patterson's options have increased over the summer as he has gone from Scout.com's No. 15 ranked power forward to No. 4. Getting an official visit is the most vital step to remaining in contention.

"Good team chemistry and a family type relationship with the coaches and the players," Patterson said when asked what he was looking for in a college. "I've been to Tennessee before. I was on UT's campus back in football season. They've got a good program and they are coming off a good season. I know Bruce Pearl is a good coach. I like Tennessee. I think I could fit into their system at power forward. I like the transition game they play."

Like Patterson, Josh Southern is a post prospect the Vols identified early and have pursued persistently. UT is one of three teams (Boston College and Kentucky are the other two) with a shot of signing the 6-foot-9, 250-pound center.

Despite what has been a good effort of by scouting and recruiting on the part of Tennessee, Southern appears to be headed to Boston College. He has scheduled a news conference for Tuesday, Aug. 22, to make his official announcement. That gives the Vols eight days to change his mind.


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