INDIANAPOLIS — While he must wait for the NBA Draft to learn about his own basketball future, former Kentucky standout Patrick Patterson expressed "total confidence" about where John Calipari will be next season and beyond: at UK.
"I think it's fun," Patterson said of the speculation that Calipari might bolt this off-season to the NBA, perhaps joining free agent friend LeBron James at Chicago or Cleveland or New Jersey. "I always knew he was coming back."
Speaking to reporters before beginning a pre-draft workout in Indianapolis, Patterson said he expected Calipari to be the subject of NBA coaching rumors after Kentucky posted a 35-3 season in Calipari's debut as UK coach.
"I definitely have total confidence in Coach Cal returning for next year," Patterson said.
When asked how he could be so sure of Calipari's return, Patterson cited Calipari's own words and attitude.
"He always said he loved it," the player said. " ... He's still building his legacy at Kentucky."
Patterson predicted Calipari will be Kentucky's coach for the length of his contract, which UK officials say they want to extend beyond the seven seasons remaining on the original deal.
"I think he will end up staying the entire time," Patterson said. "Because I definitely think he loves Kentucky and Kentucky loves him. And he always says it's the best place to be, and I don't see him going anywhere else."
As for his basketball future, Patterson will learn his destiny at the NBA Draft on June 24. When asked about his draft status, Patterson said, "Oh, I'm not sure. All I know is the first round. I hear mid-first round and I hear lottery. I hear this and that. The only thing I know for sure is first round."
Patterson, who has not yet worked out for any teams, acknowledged hoping to be drafted by one of a particular group of teams. He declined to identify those teams.
"But I won't be disappointed if I don't go to those places," he said. "Because it's all about playing at the next level, having fun, developing relationships and actually having that opportunity to keep playing."
Having led Huntington High to an unprecedented three straight West Virginia Class AAA state championships before becoming one of UK's best low-post big men of the past 25 years, Patterson reflected on the hopes and dreams that preceded this pre-draft period.
"Definitely," he said. "I think of all the time I put in the gym since Day One. Playing buddy basketball. Playing with O.J. (Mayo) at the YMCA. I definitely think of the past and what I've done."
Working out at the St. Vincent Sports Performance facility last week and this week is part of the preparation for the draft for Patterson. Such former players as Mario Chalmers, Jeff Teague, Greg Oden and Mike Conley Jr. used the facility to get ready for the draft.
Patterson said he expected to train in San Francisco, as he did last off-season. But his agent (from the Washington, D.C.-based Capital Management) and his father gave him options that included the facility in Indianapolis.
The routine includes strength and agility training in the morning and basketball activities in the afternoon, he said.
"I'm trying to improve my body," he said. "Get faster. Get stronger. Trying to jump higher."
Calipari has let him know about questions he's fielded from NBA teams. The pro teams have also contacted his friends to ask questions.
"I don't know how they got the numbers," Patterson said.
Patterson also sought out the advice of former UK teammate Jodie Meeks, who entered the NBA Draft last year. Meeks' advice for this pre-draft period included getting plenty of rest and being ready to answer questions.
"Make sure you keep eye contact with them," Patterson said of Meeks' advice. "Have fun. Be yourself and just enjoy it."
Meeks also told Patterson to concentrate on basketball when on the court and block out the NBA personnel watching the play.
Downey: Potential is key
Another player here, former South Carolina guard Devan Downey, expressed surprise that Daniel Orton and Eric Bledsoe joined more heralded UK teammates John Wall, DeMarcus Cousins and Patterson in this year's NBA Draft.
"As far as NBA-ready, I thought they had three," Downey said of UK.
Downey, an all-Southeastern Conference player for South Carolina, was quick to note that he believed Orton and Bledsoe would be fine NBA players.
"I guess it's not about stats and what you've done," he said of the NBA Draft. "It's what they think you can do."