Jai Lucas and Patrick Patterson were the two recruits in 2007 that Kentucky fans were obsessed with. Landing those two recruits could have launched Kentucky back into a contender in the SEC and the national stage.
But Tubby Smith left for Minnesota after seeing the writing on the wall, and Lucas said that left him in scramble mode.
“I was coming...I was coming to Kentucky until Coach (Tubby) Smith left and took the Minnesota job,” said Lucas. “That kind of left me in the scramble mode because I had made my mind up for months, and then that’s how I ended up at Florida.”
Lucas said that he tried to get Patrick Patterson to join him down in Gainesville, considering that Florida was going after both of them hard, along with Kentucky.
“We were really close during the recruiting process,” he said. “I would say we probably communicated about it every day, especially down the stretch. But we’re really tied together because of a lot of schools, two main schools, Florida and Kentucky, that recruited us. I think the biggest thing about it was down the stretch, we communicated a lot and when I decided, I believe I decided before him, and I think after that, I really tried to push him to come with me.”
Obviously, Patterson committed to Kentucky and Billy Gillespie and made his mark as a legend at the university.
Lucas said that the University of Kentucky has held a special place in his heart ever since he took an official visit 14 years ago, back in 2006.
“This place has left an impact on me ever since I took a visit and just through the whole recruiting process,” he said. “If you’re about basketball and everything that comes with it and the whole experience of college basketball, it’s hard to say no to Kentucky.”
When Lucas was finally introduced as part of the UK staff, Lucas says Patterson sent him a text.
“Yeah. I got a message,” said Lucas. “It was the same message he put under the school’s Instagram account. He texted me and said, ‘you finally joined the right team, even though it may be years later, but welcome to the family.’”
Of course, Lucas said no to Kentucky back in 2006, but he said yes in 2020. A true love story between UK and Jai Lucas.
Here is Lucas’s introductory press conference: