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Kentucky Basketball 2007: Finding the Way Back Part IV -- The Weapon Shops of Isher

Some of you who are into classic science fiction may recognize the title reference to a book by A. E. van  Vogt.  The reference is appropriate to his year's recruiting class, because two of these guys could legitimately be classified as basketball weapons, perhaps produced by the famous Shops in on that fictional planet.  The other two have potential, but not the polish or skills to be considered among our weapons.

Patrick Patterson seems like a curious choice for a big gun, but that's what he is.  He wasn't the most highly ranked recruit in the nation, although he was unquestionably the most hyped due to his extended recruitment.

Patterson is a rare player in today's game -- a scoring power forward who places as much emphasis on the little things as the glamorous ones.  A classic example of this was the McDonald's All-American game this year, where Patterson was entered into the slam dunk competition (apparently reluctantly).  Instead of attempting to wow the crowd with double clutch whirligig dunks, he simply dunked it -- hard.  

He lost the dunk contest, but you got the impression that in his mind, the competition was not his kettle of fish.  You can't rebound in a slam dunk competition, nor can you pass, set screens and defend.

During the actual game itself, watching Patterson was incredibly instructive.  If he made a mistake, he showed frustration with himself.  If he scored, he ran back down the court as if nothing happened.  He never once took a play off, and this was an all-star game.  He cared about every single play, and this was an all star game.

Instructive, indeed.

Patrick Patterson will not finish his time at UK as the leading scorer, or rebounder, or assist man.  But he will do what we need the most -- lead us to victory with good, solid, fundamental basketball and a rapidly improving array of athletic tools.  Of all the players in the 2006 class, he is the best one for Kentucky.

Then we come to Alex Legion.  Legion is most certainly a weapon, and a very powerful one at that.  Legion, unlike Patterson, does only one thing really well -- score the basketball.  

Legion is a rare breed these days, a guy who prefers to shoot jump shots inside the arc.  He can shoot it from anywhere, but Legion's strength is the one thing UK hasn't had in a good many years -- he can get his own shot, and he can get it anytime he wants.

Legion's challenge will be defense and passing.  He doesn't like to do either one.  But I am confident in Coach Gillispie's ability to convince him to learn and apply them both.  Legion is not a complete player like Patterson is, and will need considerably more coaching involvement.  But he is a deadly weapon on offense, and basketball remains fundamentally a game of who can put the ball in the basket the most times in a give timeframe.  Alex Legion can really put the ball in the basket.

A.J. Stewart is a diamond in the rough.  He is an extraordinary athlete with very unpolished basketball skills.  He needs to learn shot mechanics and ballhandling if he is ever to move out to the wings.  His frame is a bit more broad than Perry Stevenson and he should be able to hold more weight, but at the moment, he needs skills improvement.

Stewart's main strength is his motor, and it is a good one.  He is also an incredibly upbeat young man who immerses himself in the joy of the game.  I think Gillispie will find him eager and ready to accept his coaching.  Watch out for Stewart next year.

Morakinyo Michael (Mike) Williams' weapon is his size, which is considerable.  At 7'0", 270#, Williams is a very big young man.  Unfortunately, his skill are weak and he has a way to go before he will be able to contribute.  He is a bit slow afoot and not very aggressive for a guy his size.  Both of those things will improve once the coaching staff goes to work on him.  He has a nice touch around the basket, but hasn't learned enough basketball to play serious minutes in the SEC.

So there you have it -- a look at the final (unless we get a surprise) pieces of the puzzle for our "Finding the Way Back" series.  Finally, we found a YouTube video which nicely sums up the series.  Enjoy.