UK Men's Basketball

Hair force one: UK's Patterson sporting Afro

Samson. Rapunzel. Lady Godiva. Don King. Cousin It.

Of the persons, fact and fictional, to associate with hair add Patrick Patterson.

Kentucky basketball's strong man has decided to give his fans a head with hair, long beautiful hair. The closely cropped look of last season's freshman has given way to a fuzzy, funky Afro that he promises will only grow fuzzier and funkier this winter.

When asked how long, in terms of time, he planned to grow his hair, Patterson said, "The whole season."

By March, Patterson could be leading UK to the 2009 Final Four while looking like he's a player imported from 1976.

"Like a Dr. J look," he said in reference to Julius Erving. "Old school."

No doubt, an Afro will make Patterson appear taller than his listed 6-foot-8. So could a hairstyle affect his play?

"Not at all, not at all," Patterson said before adding, perhaps playfully, "It'll probably make me more intimidating."

Historically, Afros and UK basketball go together like a dashiki at the Republican National Convention. Larry Johnson, a standout lead guard for the Cats' 1976-77 East Region finalists, sported a full-moon Afro. Otherwise, the pickings are slim. Erik Daniels, a left-hander whose jazzy playing style earlier this decade included arm fakes, had a fashion sense that favored lime green suits and a moderate Afro. Eddie Sutton, the coach in the late 1980s, wore a perm that formed a faux Afro. Anyone else?

Apparently, UK Coach Billy Gillispie does not object.

"He's fine with it," Patterson said. "As long as I keep it nice and not let it get Ben Wallace-like."

That about sums up the view of Patterson's mother.

"He likes it," Tywanna Patterson said. "I had to grow to like it."

According to his mother, Patterson has tried a variety of styles. From a shaved head to a flow-it/show-it/long-as-God-can-grow-it Afro as a middle schooler.

It was during the period of an earlier Afro that his mother found herself balking at braids.

"Hey, I don't have a daughter," she recalled thinking. "Why am I braiding your hair?"

This time around, Patterson's father, Buster, has no objection to a bushy Afro.

"Oh, I'm cool with it," Buster said. "I like his little Afro. It reminds me of when I had mine at his age.

"When I had hair."