"A Dream Come True"

Guard Nick Patella of Elkins High School in West Virginia always dreamed of becoming a Mountaineer. Due in part to the shakeups on the WVU roster, that dream will be realized.

"He's always wanted to play at West Virginia," Nick's father said after the recent North-South All Star basketball game, where Patella played with a ferocity not usually seen in those types of contests. "He's watched WVU all his life, and it's just fantastic that he's getting the chance to play there."

Despite an outstanding senior season for Elkins, where he earned first team AAA All-State honors, Patella wasn't on the radar screen of many Division 1 Schools.

"I had full scholarship offers from West Virginia Wesleyan, Florida International and Florida Atlantic, but Florida was a little too far. Then things happened at West Virginia."

"Those things" of course, were the roster shakeups on the Mountaineer basketball squad, which lead head coach John Beilein to bring Patella in for a visit.



Patella drives
"I went up for a visit, and stayed for two days. I like Coach Beilein a lot, and I like the program. I just couldn't turn it down."

Turning down a full scholarship, no matter where, takes some heavy thinking. However, it seems it was a simple decision for the heady Patella.

"I've always had aspirations of playing Division 1 basketball for my home state University," Patella said. "That's where I want to be."

Patella, who averaged 22 points and 11.5 rebounds, and more than eight assists per game as a senior, likes to run the floor. He likes to push the ball and create from the point, which is a requirement in Beilein's offense.

"Coach Beilein likes to have two point guards on the floor a lot, and that fits my game. I like to push the ball and get out. I think I'll fit in well up there."

As he rebuilds his rosted Beilein needs players that are able to assimilate his system quickly and execute it on the floor. In Patella, Beilein has gotten a player who might not stand out physically, but figures to master the mental side of college basketball quickly.

Those thoughts are seconded by Patella's father, who believes that his son's mental approach, knowledge of the game and game management are his strongest points.

"Nick knows what needs to be done on the floor, and he knows what's going on all the time. He can tell you who's in foul trouble, and he makes the plays that need to be made.

"His shooting range is really long," said Patella as he indicated a spot four to five steps behind the three point line. "You have to pick him up out there, because he can shoot it. But, running the team and his knowledge of the game are his strong points."

Even with WVU's depleted roster, the chances of seeing a walkon freshman on the floor are slim. However, if anyone figures to have the chance of meeting that challenge, it's the confident Patella.

"I'm just happy to have the chance to play and see what I can do."


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