Fans who follow University of Kentucky women’s basketball closely understand there were some gaps created in Matthew Mitchell’s recruiting in recent seasons after a well-documented series of transfers, departures and coaching upheaval in the program.
Mitchell is not waiting for the problem to fix itself. On Thursday night, UK announced that Chasity Patterson, one of the top point guards in the nation in the class of 2017, will transfer from Texas to the Wildcats and become eligible to play in the second semester of the 2019-20 season. Patterson, a sophomore, will have 2 1/2 seasons of eligibility to complete at UK..
Patterson becomes the third transfer who will become eligible to play next season. Previously, Arizona State guard Sabrina Haines and North Carolina State forward Nae Nae Cole announced they’ll transfer to UK and be eligible to play at the start of next season. Kentucky has also signed two high school recruits for next season in Lincoln County guard Emma King and Deasia Merrill, a forward from Villa Rica, Georgia.
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The new wave of talent will be welcome because Kentucky will lose seniors Maci Morris, Taylor Murray and Amanda Paschal to graduation after this season.
Patterson, Kentucky’s new transfer from Texas, played in 24 games for the Longhorns as a freshman last season. She averaged 2.8 points and 1.2 rebounds in 7.6 minutes per game.
The 5-foot-5 Patterson played in one game for Texas as a sophomore this season — scoring six points in nine minutes in a win over Duquesne — before announcing on Nov. 10 that she would transfer.
“Sometimes things happen in our life that we don’t understand but everything happens for a reason,” Patterson posted on Twitter at the time. “After many months of prayers and thoughts with family, today I have decided the best decision for my future is to ask for my release from the basketball program.”
Coming out of high school, Patterson was the No. 4 overall recruit and the No. 1 point guard in the class of 2017, as ranked by ESPN’s HoopGurlz site.
UK said Patterson will enroll in school after the holiday break and be eligible to practice with the Wildcats immediately, even though she cannot play in games for the next two semesters under NCAA transfer rules.
“We are extremely excited to welcome Chasity Patterson to our program and cannot wait to get her on campus,” UK head coach Matthew Mitchell said in a UK news release. “Chasity is an athletic guard with incredible play-making abilities on both ends of the court. She’s a high-energy player who possesses a winning pedigree having won 125 games in high school. Chasity fits our system perfectly and when you couple that with the opportunity to compete at the highest level here at Kentucky, it was a perfect match. We are confident that her experience will be a valuable asset to our team.”
Patterson had a record-setting prep career at North Shore High School in Houston where she finished as the school’s all-time leading scorer with 3,177 points. She played in the 2017 McDonald’s All-American Game and won the three-point shooting contest at the event. She averaged 28.7 points, 6.1 rebounds and 4.9 assists per game as a senior, after which she was named a semifinalist for the Naismith High School Player of the Year award.
In an interview posted on Texas’ in-house website last August, Patterson said her adjustment to college was difficult.
“Freshman year was a tough year. Coming in as a freshman is always tough because in high school, you’re the star. Coming to a team where everybody is a star, you have to buckle down to details. I learned that details are important. (Assistant) coach Jamie (Carey) worked with me every day on details and just being more vocal. It’s hard to lead at this level, especially when you’re younger as a point guard. I’ve had a lot to learn about the point guard position.”