HQ&A: Patrick Patterson

A former Huntington High School megastar is making his way in the NBA

By Keith Morehouse

Patrick Patterson wasn’t always a bruising 6-foot-9-inch, 235-pound NBA player, but even as a buddy leaguer he towered over the crowd. You could see it in his early days at the Huntington YMCA when his precocious talent was on display every Saturday morning in the fall. Even then, he had a drop-step move, sure hands and post-up abilities that were the envy of much older and bigger players. His ability to block shots would portend what he would accomplish at Huntington High, the University of Kentucky and, now, the NBA.  Recently we talked with Patrick about growing up in Huntington, and how playing the game he loves has taken him all over the world.

HQ: What are some of your favorite memories of growing up in Huntington?
PP: Playing basketball at the YMCA, getting to know all the guys like (future HHS teammates) Michael Taylor and Chris Early, getting my start because basketball was new to me. I had an overall good, fun childhood. My parents allowed me to explore.
I have good memories.

HQ: How much did you appreciate what your parents did for you?
PP: A great deal. They had strict rules and consequences if I ever broke the rules. I had a curfew in high school, and they taught me to not be influenced by the wrong people. They helped me strive in sports and education, and to be a man. I appreciate the knowledge they instilled in me. They helped me become an NBA player. They worked hard allowing me to travel, made sure they never missed my games and showed me love and support.

HQ: Who were some of the coaches who had a positive impact on your life?
PP: Fred Hornbuckle and Mike Hornbuckle coached me at Huntington Red and Huntington Gold (YMCA All Star teams). My dad (Pat) coached me and so did Lloyd McGuffin at the high school. They taught me to work hard, never back down and always have a high level of respect.

HQ: Let’s talk about your senior year when you and OJ Mayo helped make up Huntington High’s dream team. What are your memories of that special senior season?
PP: My favorite memory was probably the state championship game (103-61 win over South Charleston). Playing the last game of our career, and OJ threw the ball into the stands, a great way to go out. I also remember the games at the Henderson Center when we completely packed the arena…so many memories.

HQ: With you and OJ both McDonald’s All Americans and first round NBA draft picks, in your mind was it the best West Virginia high school team ever?
PP: By far we’ll go down as the best team. Lots of people remember OJ and me but people forget about Bruce Senior, who played at Marshall and Jamal Williams and Michael Taylor who had scholarship offers. All the other guys helped us too.

HQ: What was it like to be recruited by Kentucky, Duke and Florida?
PP: It was difficult and fun – all these coaches trying to get you to come to their school, inviting you to their campuses, showing you around. It started off fun but as you get closer and closer to your decision, that’s when it gets serious. It was nerve-wracking.
I enjoyed it but it was one of the toughest decisions of my life.

HQ: Did you seriously consider the other schools or were you leaning toward Kentucky all along?
PP: It was extremely close. The day before I announced, I talked to a friend who committed to Florida. All throughout that day I was out of it, walking down the hallways constantly thinking about my decision. I thought about the pros and cons, where
I thought I could blossom. It was the longest day of my life.

HQ: What about your three years at Kentucky, what were some of your fondest memories?
PP: My sophomore year we had fun times, watching Jodie (Meeks) score 54 points at Tennessee. All of us had fun off the court too. In the SEC Championship game, DeMarcus (Cousins) hit that shot that sent the game into overtime. So many games I enjoyed.

HQ: How did you manage to graduate in three years?
PP: That was a big deal. Going into my junior year I talked with my advisor and was told if I took x amount of classes and passed them all I could get my degree at the end of my third year. I walked across the stage and celebrated Senior Day as a junior.

HQ: What did you feel when you heard (NBA Commissioner) David Stern call your name at the 2010 NBA Draft?
PP: That was a blessing. Being able to be up there in New York City, with DeMarcus (Cousins) and John (Wall), and being able to celebrate with them, shaking David Stern’s hand, and being able to celebrate with my grandparents and my parents and Coach Cal. It was one of the best days of my life.

HQ: How did you like living in Houston?
PP: Houston was a fun city, a large city. There’s lots of stuff going on, the nightlife is great. There are so many things going on, activities to explore; it was a lot of fun.

HQ: Was it a surprise when you got traded to the Sacramento Kings?
PP: Yes, it was a shock to me. You realize it’s a business. I made the best out of the situation. I’m in Sacramento now and it happened for a reason.

HQ: The Western conference is loaded with the Houston Rockets, the Oklahoma City Thunder, the Los Angeles Clippers – how do you see the Kings competing in such a stacked conference?
PP: Sacramento’s made trades, signed a couple of new players – everything is completely different. I’m hoping it’s all for the better. Hopefully we’ll have a winning season, and protect home court, and make it to the playoffs. Hopefully we’ll have the intangibles.

HQ: How does it feel to be paired again with (former UK teammate) DeMarcus Cousins?
PP: I’m definitely happy to play alongside him again, to see how far he’s come from Kentucky.

HQ: How do you want to improve your game?
PP: For me it’s been a lot of focus on one-on-one. Being able to score in the post, at the elbow, put the ball on the floor and score off the dribble. I’ve been working on my ball handling and my jump shot, working on my skills as a stretch forward, to pull the defense out.

HQ: What’s it like playing against LeBron James?
PP: He can play all five positions; he’s got the motor, that attitude that no one can stop him. He’s extremely gifted and has a high basketball IQ. He’s always hungry and trying to improve his game, doing what it takes to win. He’s blessed, one of the best in the game. Every single year he comes back with a new mindset and an addition to his game.

HQ: You recently had a basketball camp in Huntington, what was that like?
PP: I feel like I’m in a position to give back and do some things I couldn’t do earlier. It’s my hometown, it’s where I got started, and to do it back at my home high school gym, we had a great time. I told the kids to do all the right things, and focus on having fun. Whether you want to play basketball or not, it’s all about doing the things to get you to your top level.

HQ: Where do you like to go when you get back to Huntington?
PP: Every time I come back to Huntington, I eat the food: Hillbilly Hotdogs, Schlotzsky’s, Penn Station and Backyard Pizza. I tried Huntington Prime for the first time recently. I’m just going to all the places you can’t find on the West Coast. I go to Pullman Square, to the Huntington Mall. I love seeing all the new things in town. I really enjoy it.

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