A common theme when talking to players getting ready for the NBA Draft every year is development. For young players, how much works still has to go into their game; and with juniors and seniors, what kind of work did you do and how did you go about it. Often the improvement is steady, but sometimes, all of the hard work comes together and a player can take his game up another level. Pittsburgh’s Lamar Patterson just had one of those fantastic seasons, and now he is working on his next step, making it to the NBA.
After starting his Pittsburgh career with a medical hardship after an ankle injury limited him to just 12 games, Patterson started to make his impact slowly but surely over the next few seasons. By his junior year, Patterson has built a reputation as a solid defender, who could also contribute in all aspects on the floor. In a way, he was the ultimate role player.
That wasn’t enough for Patterson though, and he emerged his senior year as the same stat-stuffer he was, but he also became the Panthers’ primary offensive threat. Patterson finished the season with career high averages in points (17.1) and assists (4.3), while also chipping in 5 rebounds per game, 1.4 steals, and shooting 39% from three-point range.
Patterson knew coming into the season that there was a chance to make it special. “I knew I had it in me,” said Patterson. “I knew it was my last chance to bring it, and it all came together for me. I didn’t want to leave without giving everything I had.”
Looking back, Patterson is able to key on areas where he feels he grew over the past few years. “I definitely understand the game better,” Patterson explained. “I worked on just becoming more consistent in all areas, especially shooting.”
Patterson credits a lot of his growth to Head Coach Jamie Dixon. “My growth at Pittsburgh was 100% because of Coach Dixon,” said Patterson. “He had me watching film with him and he was teaching me the game. He was my biggest fan and taught me so many things, even outside of basketball. He is a great man and it was a pleasure to play for him.”
With his season over, Patterson is out at Impact Basketball in Las Vegas preparing for his chance to impress NBA teams. “I’ve really been working on everything,” explained Patterson. “I’m doing a lot of shooting and working on getting stronger.”
Patterson’s play has him on many NBA team’s radar, and he hopes to show them everything they are hoping to see. “I can be a playmaker and knock down shots,” said Patterson. “I can also go out and be a defensive stopper. Being an older player, and understanding the mental part of the game, I think I could contribute right away.”
Being such a well-rounded player isn’t keeping Patterson from working hard though to hone his skills. “I’m really working on improving everything,” said Patterson. “I can become a more consistent shooter, and I want to get my body into tip-top shape.”
Patterson knows he has the ability to help a team right away, whatever he is asked to do. “I think my game will transfer well,” Patterson explained. “I’m not going to go out and score 40 points, but I will contribute in every category. I want to come in and gain the trust of my teammates and coaches, play my game and limit my mistakes.”
With so many players available to be picked in only 60 draft slots, Patterson feels he has an edge. “I believe my game is special,” said Patterson. “I can do almost anything out on the court – score, rebound, play tough defense. I’m a hard worker who just wants to go out there and compete.”
Patterson’s game is very unique among college players these days, and I’d expect that to be intriguing to a lot of NBA teams over the next 7 weeks.
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Photo: Matt Freed/Pittsburgh Post-Gazette