Senior swingman Patterson propels Pitt with best week of career
Duquesne coach Jim Ferry was scouting Pitt and found himself not only watching Lamar Patterson play, but enjoying it.
Following Patterson's performance in the City Game — he finished with 18 points, eight rebounds, six assists and five steals — Ferry was so impressed he pulled Patterson aside.
“I said, ‘Listen, I just love your game and I'm really rooting for you,' because he's just such a great kid,” Ferry said. “I think he plays the right way. I think he makes great decisions. He's so unselfish.
“It's really difficult because he plays with such poise. It's almost like he's waiting for you to make a mistake. And he's got a scorer's mentality, but he leads them in assists. He's a complete player, he really is.”
The 6-foot-5 senior swingman from Lancaster leads the Panthers (7-0) in scoring (17.1), 3-pointers (15) and assists (38). He ranks second in steals (14) and third in rebounds (4.9).
“I think Lamar has really put the team on his back,” Pitt point guard James Robinson said.
Patterson is coming off the finest week of his five-year career: He averaged 21.7 points, shot 56.8 percent from the field and had an 8-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio in victories over Texas Tech and Stanford in the Legends Classic — for which he won tournament MVP — and Duquesne.
“He's a big-time player, and I always look at big-time players by what they do on big-time stages,” Stanford coach Johnny Dawkins said after Patterson scored a career-high 24 against the Cardinal.
“Playing for a championship, he showed who he is. He stepped up and made the plays. He wasn't rattled. He played with a lot of poise all game. It tells you who he is as a player: He's a winner, he's a big-time player and he's going to have a bright future.”
Patterson realizes his future is now, which is why he rededicated himself after the Panthers' loss to Wichita State in the NCAA Tournament. He dropped 18 pounds, now runs the floor better and has legs under his jump shot.
Pitt coach Jamie Dixon joked that he finally can call Patterson an athlete.
“He's a better player now than he was last year, and he's probably better than a couple weeks ago,” Dixon said. “He always had skills, could pass and shoot. He's just a better athlete. He's in better shape right now. That comes with physical maturity and also mental maturity. He's taken that challenge. We set a goal for him, and he reached it.”
Patterson needs 86 points, 53 rebounds and 89 assists to become the third player in Pitt history to record 1,000 points, 500 rebounds and 400 assists in a career.
“I just put in so much work these five years that I want to make sure I go out with a bang,” Patterson said. “I don't want to say I left something behind at Pitt. I think I have a different mentality coming into this year. I wish I would have had it throughout my whole career.”
Kevin Gorman is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @KGorman_Trib.
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