UK Men's Basketball

UK's Patterson to test NBA Draft

Patrick Patterson joined teammate Jodie Meeks in following new Kentucky coach John Calipari's advice to test their stock in this year's NBA Draft.

If UK fans follow Calipari's advice, they'll wish the two well and brace themselves for more of the same in the future.

"If those two choose to go now, I'm telling you, I'll be all for them," Calipari told reporters on Wednesday. "I'll be disappointed because I want to coach them. But none of us should be mad. This is about a decision they make for themselves and their families.

"And I'm going to tell all you folks, every year we're going to be doing this because there's going to be a guy here for one year making this decision, and don't be mad. Be happy for him and his family. And we may get another guy who only stays one year."

That's what happened at Memphis, when Derrick Rose and then Tyreke Evans played one stellar season for the Tigers before turning pro.

Patterson, who like Meeks will keep alive the option of returning by not hiring an agent, acknowledged that Kentucky could have a special season in 2009-10. And no one felt the need to remind him that he had not even played in the NCAA Tournament for UK.

Patterson added that a promise of several highly regarded prospects would have a "tremendous impact" on a decision to leave or stay.

But the player who has been a cornerstone on the last two Kentucky teams also noted the personal nature of turning pro.

"I'm doing this for myself and my best interest and for my family," he said. "We'll have to see how everything plays out."

Before this past season began, former UK coach Billy Gillispie hoped aloud that Patterson would play so well that entering the 2009 NBA Draft would be an easy decision to make, a "no-brainer," he said.

It wasn't.

"It really wasn't 100 percent jump in, let's go and I don't want to come back," Patterson said. "I had one foot in the door and one foot out the door. I wasn't 100 percent sure. I'm still not 100 percent sure. That's why I didn't hire an agent."

Neither Patterson nor Meeks said that a particular draft-position projection — say, the first round — would determine whether they turned pro or returned to Kentucky.

Patterson dismissed the importance of mock drafts, some of which have him being selected within the first 15 picks.

Meeks acknowledged that the mock drafts do not project him as an early first-round selection. That's why he did not hire an agent.

"That was the smart thing to do," said Meeks, who has made the Southeastern Conference academic honor roll more than once. "I'm not a top-five pick."

Meeks, who set scoring records for two SEC arenas this past season (Tennessee and Arkansas), took no offense at being lightly regarded as an NBA prospect.

"That doesn't matter to me," he said. "I'm just concerned with working hard. People are going to have their opinions. I'm not going to worry about that. As long as I work hard, good things are going to happen."

Meeks led Kentucky and the SEC in scoring with an average of 23.7 points (seventh best in the country). Patterson averaged a near double-double at 17.9 points and 9.3 rebounds.

Each player acknowledged playing for Calipari, who once coached the New Jersey Nets, could improve his game and NBA stock.

Calipari thought about adding his dribble-drive offensive freedom to Meeks' well-established shooting skill.

"When you add the ability to beat people off the bounce and just go and just be unleashed... he can be a lottery pick," he said, meaning in 2010.

Ironically, Calipari's advice to test his NBA stock this season contributed to Patterson's decision to enter the draft.

"With him telling me that, it weighed a lot of my mind," Patterson said.

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