Patterson taking his time before choosing a school
Posted: Wednesday April 25, 2007 2:23PM; Updated: Thursday April 26, 2007 5:10PM
NEW YORK -- Tywanna Patterson was in the stands at Madison Square Garden, talking to a reporter a few minutes after the conclusion of the Jordan Brand All-American Classic last Saturday night, when the subject veered away from basketball and turned to, of all things, her wireless phone bill. "I just paid it yesterday," she said. "Can you believe it was $507?"
That astronomical figure is the fault of a few parties: First, her cell phone provider, for not offering a plan that includes unlimited text-messaging. Second, Tywanna's son, Patrick, a high school senior from Huntington, W.Va., who put up a double-double (12 points, 12 rebounds in 21 minutes) in the Jordan Game but has more sensational statistics in the field of text-messaging: In the March billing cycle, he racked up around 7,000 text messages, 4,000 over the max offered by the Patterson's plan. Third, the college basketball coaches who send 6-foot-8, 235-pound Patrick most of those texts, because he is the only player among Rivals.com's top 15 class of 2007 recruits who has yet to pick a school. Tywanna is not happy with the half-grand check she wrote to her cell phone provider, but one senses that she's not irate, either. It is, in part, the cost of doing business when your son decides to become the last great uncommitted recruit in the country, in the final months before the NCAA's text-messaging ban becomes official. Because, as she says, "it would have been worse, much worse" had Patrick signed early with one of his prospective schools that either had coaching changes or rumors of changes -- specifically, Kentucky, Florida and West Virginia -- and been put in an uncomfortable situation once the carousel stopped spinning.
"Going through all this made us realize that it's a business, and coaches are for coaches and their families -- and that's why my husband [Buster] and I are for Patrick and whatever's best for him," Tywanna said. "Tubby [Smith] left Kentucky for his own reasons. [John] Beilein left West Virginia, which totally blindsided me. And then there were rumors about Billy [Donovan] leaving Florida for Kentucky, which I really couldn't see happening when he already had a great program. But you never know."
The only way to know for sure is to wait, and that is what Patterson did. He's a patient kid, patient enough to hang around with a reporter and not act antsy about leaving after all of the Jordan game's other participants had vacated the Garden locker rooms. He talked openly about the shock of learning of Smith's departure for Minnesota in late March. "I was out with my friends, and got a call from my mom saying, 'Did you hear about Tubby? He left Kentucky,'" Patterson said. "About a week later, he called me and my mom and tried to explain everything -- he said there was a bunch of stuff going on at Kentucky, that they wanted him to do things that he didn't want to do, and stuff like that."
He talked of Beilein's departure for Michigan -- "He said he was going to stay in West Virginia, and then he left, too," Paterson said -- and of speaking with friends Michael Beasley and Bill Walker after they learned, from media reports, that their coach, Bob Huggins, was bolting Kansas State for West Virginia. "Bill found out from his friends and in the paper, before coach Huggins even called him," Patterson said. "That makes you think about [Huggins'] character and his word."
He talked about weathering the storm of Donovan's potential jump to Lexington, and one move that could affect his interest in Florida: "I never thought Donnie Jones" -- the Gators' top assistant -- "would leave for Marshall, either," Patterson said. "Out of all the Florida coaches, I talked to Donnie the most, because coach Donovan was usually busy with team stuff, and Donnie was always there to text and call."
As the coaching carousel spun wildly, involving 50 schools and names such as Beilein, Huggins, Smith, Jones and Billy Gillispie, Patterson's future was being affected on a daily basis.
"I felt like everyone in my state was giving me a hard time about why I needed to made a decision earlier," Patterson said. "They would say things like, 'Coaches won't be interested in you if you keep waiting,' but me and my family wanted to stick to a plan. We wanted to wait until we were sure what the coaches were going to do, and I wasn't 100 percent sure about what college I wanted to go to, either. I'm just glad that I waited, because it worked out for the best."
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