Early Riser

Huntington High School's Patrick Patterson may just be a rising junior, but he is already getting attention from a number of big time colleges. The player that many consider to already be the best in the state of West Virginia talked with BlueGoldNews.com about last year's state tournament, his summer activities and plans, and the beginning of the recruiting process.

Patterson, who was already getting attention from several schools, forced his way even higher on the list of rising juniors with his performance in the West Virginia State Tournament earlier this year. During the regular season, Patterson often seemed to defer to his teammates, especially the seniors, but he exploded during the tournament to help lead his school to the title.

"My coach told me to like an animal," so I did," the laid back Patterson said. "I went out and played hard – on defense, rebounding, everything. I just played my heart out for my teammates. I wanted to win a state championship for the seniors."

Patterson achieved that goal as he led the Highlanders to a 67-56 win over Woodrow Wilson in the championship game, where he recorded an awesome double-double of 20 points and 23 rebounds. For the entire week, he averaged 17 points, 16.3 rebounds, 5.3 blocked shots and three assists. That performance, on top of his regular season play, earned him first team Class AAA All-State honors. With those things safely tucked away, what will motivate him this fall?

"I just have to keep my head up and play hard every single game," said Patterson, who currently stands six feet, seven inches tall but expects to grow more. " I have to keep working on everything."

An admitted gym rat, Patterson doesn't worry about burning out on the game. His AAU 17 and under team, which also features current South Charleston star Josh Daniels, is playing in a tournament in Virginia this weekend. And when he's not touring with his AAU team, he can often be found playing pickup games or "just shooting around".

Patterson has also begun a workout regimen to help add muscle to his large frame. He could end up in the 6-9 to 6-10 range, which would make him an even more imposing prospect for college recruiters. Although he will be just a junior this fall, Patterson is already getting mailings from a number of schools.

"Virginia Tech, Wake Forest, Florida, Michigan State, Illinois," Patterson ticked off as he went through the list of schools that have sent material. "And West Virginia, of course. I watched them in the tournament, and I really like the way they play. I've though a little bit about the schools I like, and Florida, Michigan State and West Virginia are up there."

Despite naming those three, Patterson said he hasn't begun to narrow his list down as yet. In addition to his AAU schedule this summer, he also plans to attend the adidas camp in Atlanta and perhaps the Nike Peach Jam as well.

In another recruiting angle, Patterson said he sometimes thinks about the kind of team Huntington could have had if OJ. Mayo and Bill Walker, both attending school in Cincinnati, had remained in the River City. Those two figure to be among the top five recruits in the nation when their senior years arrive, and could skip college and head directly to the pro ranks.

"I've gone to see them play a couple of times, and I've thought about how good we could have been, but they decided to go to Cincinnati and do their own thing," Patterson said. "I don't really stay in touch with them much, but we could have bee a great team.

"It might have helped me a little bit that we split up," Patterson continued. "I've had to carry the load some here, and that may have helped me get better."

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