Patrick Patterson, one of our all-time favorite Wildcats, was talking today about the impact John Calipari had on his game while he was at Kentucky. If you’ll recall, Patrick Patterson was purely an on-the-blocks player for his freshman and sophomore year at Kentucky. As a matter of fact, Patterson took a grand total of four 3-point shots in his first two seasons at Kentucky under Billy Gilispie.
In his final season under John Calipari, Patterson took 69 threes, making 24 of them (35%), and it was that ability, plus an improved ability to put the ball on the floor that made Patterson the player he is today. Consider this, from Pro Bball Report:
"Being taller than everybody, I was forced to play the 5," Patterson said. In college my first 2 years, I was a center at 6’8, so to that I credit my post defense and (Coach) Calipari, he came in my junior year, he introduced me to the perimeter game. He allowed me to shoot the ball, put the ball on the floor and that allowed me to transition to the NBA."
"It opened up my game. Had I not stayed with DeMarcus (Cousins) and John (Wall), I would have come out as a 6’8 center. A guy who had never stepped out to the three-point line or even taken an 18’ jump shot, I would be pretty much a version of Chuck (Hayes), but not as strong and not as wide. That would have been my game, just around the basket and then I would have had to start from scratch when I got to the NBA. Coming back with John and DeMarcus and Calipari is definitely the reason that I am the type of player I am today."
At Houston, Patterson took only 101 3-pointers in 3 years with the team, making 35 for a .347 percentage. At Sacramento, he took fewer, 75 in two years, making 25 (.333), and last season at Toronto he shot 112 threes and made 46 (.411). His game has expanded tremendously with the addition of the 3-point shot first seriously attempted under Coach Cal, and his transition to a "stretch" four now seems complete.
Anyone who tells you that John Calipari doesn’t prepare players for the NBA is blowing smoke, plain and simple. He does it in more ways than one, and in Patterson’s case, he may have been the difference between a relatively short career as an undersized center and a long one as a multi-skilled big man, and he recently got rewarded for that versatility by Toronto to the tune of 3 years at $18 million.