Recruiting Update- Patrick Patterson

If you had a chance to catch any of the West Virginia Boys State Basketball Tournament last week in Charleston, you probably saw a few familiar faces from the college coaching ranks.

There's little to no doubt why these coaches were at the Charleston Civic Center. When the Huntington Highlanders took the court, the notebooks came out. After the game, you could find the coaches in the hallway waiting to speak with Huntington High School head coach Lloyd McGuffin. Why all the attention for the Highlanders? Patrick Patterson.

The 6'8" power forward again showed why he is one of the nation's most sought after power forwards for the Class of 2007. He averaged nearly 19 points, and just under ten rebounds a game during the state tournament. His best game came in the semifinal round against Capital, when Patterson scored 23 points, grabbed nine rebounds, blocked six shots, and started the second half with a personal nine to zero run which crushed any hopes of an upset by the Capital Cougars.

That game was attended by Wake Forest coach Skip Prosser, and Virginia coach Dave Leitao. Marshall head coach Ron Jirsa was spotted in the crowd on more than one occasion last week, and assistant coaches from West Virginia were in attendance during Wednesday's quarterfinal win over Fairmont Senior. Having major Division I head coaches in the crowd wasn't anything new for Patterson, though.

"I know in advance that they're going to be there. I tell my friends, and I tell my coaches that they're going to be there. But I have to block that out and just try to play the game," he said following the win over Capital.

Having been on the radar of several schools since his freshman year at Huntington, the recruiting game is an old hat for Patterson.

"On the AAU circuit in the summer we play in front of like a dozen coaches each game. That helps a lot. If I hadn't played AAU and played in front of coaches and scouts as often as I do then, I think I'd be very nervous when they came to my high school games. But now, like I said, I just block it out."

He did a good job blocking it out as he led the Highlanders to their second consecutive Class AAA Championship on Saturday with a 12 point win over George Washington.

Patterson's statistics during the regular season don't look like anything special at first glance. He averaged 14.5 points and 11 rebounds per game. Those numbers were good enough to earn him the Bill Evans Award as West Virginia's top high school basketball player, but are somewhat pedestrian when compared to other top recruits across the country.

Once the bright lights were flipped on in the state tournament though, he stepped up his game.

"The state tournament brings out the animal in me," he admitted. "During the season I play hard and all, but I'm more about trying to get my teammates the ball. They might score 20 a night, and I might score just ten. But when I come to the state tournament I like to show everybody what I can do, and show that I can take over when I need to."

Of course getting his teammates the ball is never a bad thing, especially with the caliber of teammates he has around him. The Highlanders are a junior-laden squad, and have potential Division I players in forward Chris Early, point guard Mike Taylor, and slasher Jamal Williams.

"It's a great feeling to know that they're going to get a chance to go to Division I colleges," he said. "I think when coaches come to look at me, and watch me play, they can also see that some of my teammates are good enough to play D-I and stuff like that. Knowing you're playing with other division one players takes a lot of pressure off of you on the court. It's pretty cool."

Whether they'll be his teammates next year or not remains to be seen. There is speculation that Patterson may tranfer to national power North College Hill in Cincinnati to play with O.J. Mayo and Bill Walker next season. Mayo and Walker are Huntington natives who transferred out of state several years ago. If Patterson were to return to Huntington he would have a chance to become the first two-time winner of the Bill Evans Award since Dupont's Randy Moss, now of the Oakland Raiders, pulled the trick in 1994-95.

For now, he plans on making a few trips this summer.

"This summer, camps-wise, I am looking forward to going to camps at Virginia, the University of Florida, and the Nike All-American Camp," Patterson noted. "I'll also go to the NBA camp in Richmond, Va. for the top 100 players. Of course I'll keep playing AAU ball too."

He doesn't have a favorite school right now, at least he's not saying so publically.

"I really don't have a favorite right now. I'd say that everybody's equal."

As the summer months draw closer and the temperature heats up, so will the recruitment of Patrick Patterson.

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