"He is already a good player, but he's going to be a special player," Kentucky coach Billy Gillispie said. "He's handled everything we have thrown at him. Sometimes his problem has been that the other pieces on our team have not been in the right spots at the right times."
Gillispie is also a bit puzzled as to why Patterson is not being mentioned more prominently among the nation's top freshmen. Louisville coach Rick Pitino praised Patterson's fundamentals and overall play, but most college basketball analysts have not ranked him among the nation's elite freshmen.
"It's our fault he has not got more national recognition," Gillispie said. "We have not played well and he's probably been overlooked for that reason. But I don't think he needs someone to say he is one of the best freshmen to make him feel totally honored and I don't think he uses that as a motivational tool because he's not built that way. When the time comes (for national recognition), he will be there.
"I would doubt anyone has played better or been more important to their team than Patrick. That's no disrespect to anyone else. If we would have been without him .. it has been pretty ugly anyway ... but I would not have wanted to see that."
NCAA Tournament appearance seems unlikely
It's been bad enough for many UK fans to watch the Wildcats suffer even with the scoring and rebounding Patterson has provided. Kentucky is already being projected as a team that won't make the NCAA Tournament, something that has not happened since the 1990-1991 season.
"I know maybe fans and other people are panicking and saying Kentucky is not going to do this or that. As a family and people on the team, we believe we are lot better than our record shows and we just have not played like that. Now is the time for us to step it up.
"A lot of fans can panic. I understand that. I am just calm because my family raised me that way. We believe in each other here. If anything, losing games like we have has maybe brought us closer together because we have to depend even more on each other now."
Patterson's teammates certainly have not lost confidence in him even though he had his worst game of the season - six points, seven rebounds, six turnovers - in last week's loss to Louisville.
"Patrick is such a big part of our offense and defense. He's just had one bad game all year. That's better than the rest of us have done, so he's going to be fine," senior Joe Crawford said.
Patterson feels the same way about Gillispie, who persuaded him to sign with UK after Tubby Smith left for Minnesota.
"I believe in him and what he says. Facts show everywhere he has been, he has turned around the programs and helped the programs. That's what he does," Patterson said. "We just have to buy into the fact that we are a lot better than the way we have been playing and we have to step it up on the court. We just have to lay it all on the line and pick it up as a team in SEC play."