UK Men's Basketball

Patterson may get two shots at hoop

Junior forward Patrick Patterson will jump through a paper hoop and participate in Kentucky's Senior Day ceremony on Sunday. Whether he'll head out the door for good after this season remains unknown.

"I'm doing this just in case I don't get to do it next year," he said on Friday. "If I do choose to leave and not come back."

That choice — to return for a senior season or enter this year's NBA Draft — will come down to how Patterson feels about his career and UK's accomplishments this season.

"If I become satisfied with what I have done (and) with what we have done as a team, my decision to leave will be easier to make," he said.

Patterson defined that level of satisfaction in terms of some combination of Southeastern Conference and national championships, plus individual awards for himself and teammates.

"If I feel I've done enough for the university and myself, and I think I can move on, I most likely will," he said.

Like Jamal Mashburn in 1993 and Ron Mercer in 1997, Patterson will take a bow on Senior Day and give UK fans a chance to say goodbye. UK Coach John Calipari noted that Patterson is on track to graduate this spring and his participation in Senior Day should set a precedent.

"I think that's what we'll do from this point (forward)," Calipari said. "If a player graduates before his senior year and has the opportunity to leave, we'll honor him.

"If he comes back, he'll get it twice."

UK will honor seniors Ramon Harris, Mark Krebs and Perry Stevenson on Sunday.

The school will not bid a formal farewell to John Wall and DeMarcus Cousins, two freshmen widely thought to be bound for this year's NBA Draft. Both are projected as lottery picks. At one point this season, Calipari said he would wrestle Wall in an attempt to make him enter the draft.

When asked about Wall and Cousins jumping through hoops, too, Calipari said, "Well, you don't know if they're coming back. And they're not graduating. So, no. If they graduate, yeah. It's tough in one year."

A moment later, Calipari quipped, "A couple schools in the ACC, you can do that."

Patterson said he had been in "constant communication" with former teammate Jodie Meeks, who left UK after his junior season last year.

"He said he's loving it," Patterson said of being a NBA player. "He's having a lot of fun."

Patterson, an All-American candidate from Huntington, W.Va., chose to play for Kentucky rather than Florida. He found it fitting that his last UK game could be against the Gators.

"Definitely fitting," he said. "It's a team I have a tremendous amount of respect for, a team I have many friends on."

Those friends include Chandler Parsons, Alex Tyus and former Gator Nick Calathes, Patterson said.

Patterson acknowledged that his UK career has not been all sweetness and light. He noted the ankle surgery that ended his freshman season and robbed him of a chance to play in the NCAA Tournament. Then there were the ultra-demands of Billy Gillispie's two seasons as coach.

"I would have liked it to work out a lot better," Patterson said of his three UK seasons. "If I could take away some of those things (I would).

"I am satisfied with my choice I made. It was an extremely tough decision. I was going back and forth. All in all, Kentucky was the right place for me."

Florida Coach Billy Donovan spoke of his "great, great respect and admiration" for Patterson, who changed his approach this season.

"I've always thought that's a sign of a great player," Donovan said. "That a guy can do whatever is necessary for the team to be successful, and he's one of those guys that's done that."

Related stories from Lexington Herald Leader