By LARRY VAUGHT
When Patrick Patterson joined the Toronto Raptors two years ago, his mother admits she did not know coach Dwane Casey was a former Kentucky player or assistant coach.
“I just did not know that at all,” said Tywanna Patterson. “But I love Dwane Casey. He lets young men play their game. The NBA is a little different from college. In college, whatever the coach says goes. In the NBA, there is more leeway and if a player has an idea for setting up a play or something, the coaches listen.
“Dwane is a good family man. He creates a family atmosphere and I love that. I want a coach to love my son or have his best interests at heart. Dwane does that. He takes care of my kid.”
Actually, her “kid” is now a six-year veteran who played in the Eastern Conference finals this year and has scored 3,301 points; grabbed 1,940 rebounds; handed out 502 assists; and blocked 226 shots. He’s played with Houston and Sacramento also.
“Six years and he’s a veteran. It’s just crazy to think that,” Tywanna Patterson said. “But we love Toronto. We are surrounded by fans that are so passionate. It reminds me of Kentucky.”
Her and her husband, Buster, as well as Patrick Patterson always get plenty of reminders about Kentucky when he plays in Indianapolis, Cleveland or Detroit — NBA venues where UK fans can drive to easily.
“The fans are still as great as ever,” Tywanna Patterson, who now lives in Union, Ky., said.
It was the same when Patrick was a prep star in Huntington and was being recruited by some of the nation’s best programs. There were numerous rumors that Patrick Patterson and Jai Lucas would be a package deal to UK for coach Tubby Smith if he had stayed at UK instead of leaving for Minnesota.
“I think the media kind of blew that up,” Tywanna Patterson said. “Patrick did mention, ‘Wouldn’t it be great if we went to Kentucky together?’ So it went in their heads but they had to make their own decisions. Jai made his decision before Patrick did. He chose Florida, and we’re like, ‘Oh, what did he do that for? He said he was going to Kentucky. So, I’m like, ‘Patrick, you have to make your decision what’s best for you.'”
She remembers about 18 to 20 schools that her son initially liked before he reduced his list. She said it was a “crazy” time.
“We had a cell phone and he was on my plan. Back then there was not unlimited text messaging,” she said. “One month my bill was over $400. All these coaches were calling. I was like, ‘Can you please stop calling and let us call you?'”
Her son always felt an “alliance” to Kentucky and Smith. She said Patrick worried Billy Donovan would leave Florida for the NBA, which he eventually did.
“We loved Tubby and when he left Kentucky, we were not sure what to do,” Tywanna Patterson said.
Obviously, Patrick Patterson came to Kentucky, endured two brutal years with Billy Gillispie and then got to play one year for John Calipari before becoming a first-round NBA draft pick.