Father of Ole Miss QB Shea Patterson discusses son’s future, Hugh Freeze, and ‘gutless’ Houston Nutt

Ole Miss-Ole Miss football-Ole Miss Rebels-Shea Patterson-Hugh Freeze

Amid the off-field circus that has engulfed Ole Miss football over the last several months, and the last 48 hours in particular, the father of prized Rebels quarterback Shea Patterson displayed a striking amount of composure and resolve Friday night.

That’s when Sean Patterson Sr. spoke with SEC Country about a bevy of topics affecting his son’s college program, including the resignation of Hugh Freeze, the brutally timed Houston Nutt lawsuit, and the mindset of the players caught in this mess just days before fall camp is set to begin.

But the most important insight gleaned from this conversation — and perhaps the one that matters most to Ole Miss fans — was the simple message Patterson shared about his 5-star son.

“As far as our family and everything else is concerned, we support the university. Shea’s not going anywhere,” he told SEC Country.

Yes, Patterson is staying. His teammates, the school and Rebels supporters everywhere can breathe a big sigh of relief.

Freeze may be gone — his exit hastened by female escort-related circumstances that were startling to everyone — but the end result of this months-long imbroglio was not so surprising.

Patterson noted that many players were “very sad” to lose their coach, despite the allegations against him, and he believes the NCAA would have eventually forced him out. He also expressed displeasure toward many of those in the media who, in his eyes, seemingly wanted to see Freeze lose his job.

“Coach Freeze, he loves and cares for these kids,” the elder Patterson said. “Enough’s enough. He’s going to move on with his life. He leaves behind a bunch of people and a bunch of kids that will always care for him, no matter what anyone says. Because who really knows the truth? Who really knows?”

When it comes to Nutt, the former Ole Miss coach whose quest for vengeance became the catalyst for his successor’s demise, Patterson was not so forgiving.

In fact, he said the only thing to really upset him in the last 18 months was Nutt’s media days sabotage. His lawsuit became public knowledge one day before Ole Miss took the stage at SEC Media Days, and as a result shifted most media focus away from the school’s three player representatives: Shea Patterson, Javon Patterson and Breeland Speaks.

“Just because he has a grudge or he has a problem with a coach, he couldn’t wait another few days to go after that guy? He had to get his moment in the sun because he doesn’t have it any more,” Patterson said. “Whether the suit was good or not, that’s not the issue. It’s always the kids who are forgotten. Not one thought was given to them. I’ve coached for 25 years. No way would I ever want to spoil a kid’s moment in the sun.

“It was gutless. It ruined three kids’ days.”

For almost the entirety of the Rebels’ knock-down, drag-out NCAA investigation, however, the entire Patterson family has handled the twists and turns with remarkable poise. They’d have every right to feel angry, confused or hurt by the turn of events that has left Shea Patterson and older brother Sean Jr. — an off-field member of Freeze’s staff — in an incredibly difficult situation.

But the Pattersons see a silver lining: It’s a huge chance for Shea and his teammates to prove the outside world wrong in the face of especially trying circumstances.

The scandal has taken all attention away from the Ole Miss players, he said, as it did in the case of Nutt’s lawsuit. The bowl ban and the sudden departure of Freeze have created rock-bottom expectations for the squad in 2017; the media predicted Ole Miss will finish seventh in the SEC West last week before Freeze’s phone usage came to light.

And yet, some around the program feel like they could surprise this fall. Patterson, Van Jefferson and A.J. Brown highlight what should be a fairly dynamic offense under new coordinator Phil Longo, whose Air Raid system put up huge numbers at Sam Houston State. Defensive coordinator Wesley McGriff is a respected coach who can improve a defense that seriously stumbled last season.

Patterson and the rest of the 2016 signing class are “locked in,” Patterson Sr. said, and they’re looking at 2017 as a challenge. Chances are, it’ll be the biggest football trial they’ll ever face.

“In the long run, it’ll make them stronger. It’ll make them tougher mentally,” he said. “During this whole process, we forget this is a kid’s game. That’s what it should be. I think you’ll see it come back to where it’s a manageable situation. It’s unmanageable right now. The [NCAA] enforcement is pretty much, ‘Who do we want?’ It’s not across the board.”

With Freeze gone, the Ole Miss community is awaiting closure more eagerly than ever. Until the school meets with the Committee on Infractions this fall, when the NCAA will determine a final punishment, that won’t really happen.

Recruiting efforts likely will continue to suffer (3-star CB Jaylin Williams has de-committed), and fans may find it hard to not view 2017 as a lost season.

All Ole Miss can do is focus on the game. And for the Pattersons, the Sept. 2 opener vs. South Alabama can’t come soon enough.

“We’re ready to play some football,” Patterson Sr. said.

RELATED: Matt Luke has simple message to Rebels in first team meeting as head coach

The post Father of Ole Miss QB Shea Patterson discusses son’s future, Hugh Freeze, and ‘gutless’ Houston Nutt appeared first on SEC Country.

Alec Shirkey – SEC Country


Kentucky basketball: Jarred Vanderbilt undecided on NBA, has ‘much more to his game,’ father says

Kentucky-Jarred Vanderbilt-NBA draft-decision-return-coming back-father

LEXINGTON, Ky. — Kentucky freshman Jarred Vanderbilt will fly home to Houston next week to meet with his family about whether to roll the dice on the 2018 NBA Draft or return to school and prove he can stay healthy for an entire season and do more than rebound.

“We haven’t decided yet,” Vanderbilt’s father Robert told SEC Country on Thursday night. “We haven’t really even sat down and discussed it yet. We want to discuss it and make sure we think things out and make the right decision.”

RELATED: Stay updated with our NBA draft decision tracker

Vanderbilt, a 6-foot-9 former McDonald’s All-American, missed the Wildcats’ first 17 games with a left foot injury — he injured the same foot twice previously in high school — and sat out all six of UK’s postseason games with a left ankle injury. In between, he played 14 games and averaged 5.9 points, 7.9 rebounds and 17 minutes off the bench.

He averaged 18.5 rebounds per 40 minutes and his rebound percentage (he grabbed an estimated 25.7 percent of available rebounds) would’ve led the nation had he played enough to qualify. But because of his injury history and a rough showing offensively at Kentucky (42.6 percent shooting), the guy who was once considered a potential lottery pick is now widely regarded as a fringe second-rounder.

“He needs to go back, work on his shot and have a monster year,” one NBA scout told SEC Country this week. “Hasn’t been on our radar this year because of the injury.”

Vanderbilt’s father has maintained that the most recent injury is a sprained ankle and not related to the thrice-injured foot. But on Thursday, he deflected questions about whether any offseason surgery is needed.

“It’s day to day with the sprained ankle and we’re trying to discuss how serious that is,” Robert Vanderbilt said. “It’s getting a little better. It’s still day to day. We’re going to discuss all that when he comes in — talk about that part and the other decision we’re going to make. We’re going to discuss the whole 9 yards of this thing.”

As for questions about Vanderbilt’s offensive ability, his father scoffed at the idea his son is merely a good rebounder. (For the record, most people also believe he’s an excellent defender, ball handler and passer, especially for his size. It’s just the shooting.)

“He has a good repertoire. His game is good all around,” Robert Vanderbilt said. “People got the idea that he can’t shoot, he can’t score. That’s not true. He was one of the top scorers in the state [of Texas] when he was here. By him coming in a little behind everybody else, he was kind of playing catch-up.”

Still, the fact remains that at Kentucky he shot 22.6 percent on 2-point jump shots and struggled mightily at times to score from point-blank range in the paint. He attempted just 1 3-pointer and missed. He shot an unimpressive 63.2 percent at the free-throw line. On the bright side, he’s still 18 years old and has already demonstrated one elite skill.

Informed that multiple NBA scouts believe his son could significantly boost his draft stock with a strong (and injury free) sophomore season at Kentucky, Robert Vanderbilt said, “I’m glad you let me know about that. I feel there’s much more to his game than what we saw. The qualities and skills are there. He just needs an opportunity to show them.”

With a nagging injury, it seems unlikely that opportunity would come at the NBA combine next month. So will it come instead during a second season in Lexington?

Earlier in the week, UK freshman PJ Washington’s father told SEC Country that he wouldn’t advise his son to leave for the NBA unless he was confident he’d be picked in the first round. Both Washington and Vanderbilt are widely considered second-round picks — and ESPN has Vanderbilt ranked 64th among draft-eligible prospects. (There are only 60 picks in the draft.)

Robert Vanderbilt said “most kids feel that same way” as Washington’s father. “The first round would be a little bit more secure, I would think. Like I said, at this point, we haven’t decided one way or the other, but for the most that’s what everybody wants, to go in the first round.”

No Kentucky players have declared so far, but each of the top four recruits in the Class of 2017 have already announced plans to enter the NBA draft and hire agents: Marvin Bagley III (Duke), Michael Porter Jr. (Missouri), Mohamed Bamba (Texas) and Deandre Ayton (Arizona).

The post Kentucky basketball: Jarred Vanderbilt undecided on NBA, has ‘much more to his game,’ father says appeared first on SEC Country.

Kyle Tucker – SEC Country


One-and-done? Father of Kentucky star Kevin Knox says not so fast

Kentucky-Kevin Knox-NBA-draft-decision-one and done-UK basketball-Kentucky basketball-dad-father-announcement-return

LEXINGTON, Ky. — Kentucky fans and coach John Calipari are hoping this is the rare year in which several 5-star freshmen pass on the NBA draft and come back to school, but it would be a major surprise if Kevin Knox was one of them. Even so, Knox’s father says that remains a possibility.

“We haven’t made that decision yet,” Kevin Knox Sr. told SEC Country on Monday night. “He really loves his teammates and he made references to: ‘Man, can you imagine if we all came back?’ Him and PJ [Washington] are roommates and they were talking about it with Shai [Gilgeous-Alexander]: ‘Can you imagine if we all came back what would happen?’ Man, that would be exciting.

“He was like, ‘Daddy, I really love the coaching from Cal and KP and Tony Barbee and Joel Justus and I love the BBN and I came here because of the stage, and I’ve got to take all that into consideration.’ It’s not just all about going straight to the NBA.”

RELATED: Stay updated with our Kentucky NBA draft decision tracker 

Knox plans to go home to Tampa, Fla., this weekend for Easter and weigh his options. If he did pull a stunner and come back to Kentucky, it wouldn’t be the first time he delighted Big Blue Nation with a surprise. His commitment to the Cats came out of nowhere — about this time last year.

“Just like we did with the college decision, we’re not purposefully trying to wait to the last minute, be the last person, but just the way that our family operates is we’re always going to be on the same page, make a decision as a family,” Knox Sr. said. “We’ll go through certain criteria, just like we did with the college decision, when we chose Kentucky. We were extremely happy with the way that process happened and we made the right decision, and we want to use a similar process this time.”

Knox, a 6-foot-9 former McDonald’s All-American, had an uneven freshman season at UK but delivered several big-time performances: 20 points and 7 rebounds in his third college game against Kansas, 34 and 7 in a wild comeback win at West Virginia, 25 and 6 in an NCAA Tournament game against Davidson.

In the locker room after the Wildcats lost in the Sweet 16 last week, Knox raised some eyebrows when he said, “It’d be crazy if a lot of us came back. … We’ve learned so much this year that we could help the freshmen coming in.”

Knox averaged 15.6 points and 5.4 rebounds this season and scored 20-plus 10 times. He’s ranked the 10th-best 2018 NBA draft prospect by Sports Illustrated and 14th-best by ESPN — both of which puts him in the lottery and would guarantee him several million dollars. On the other hand, Knox won’t turn 19 until August and could clearly benefit from another year of growth before entering the grown-man’s NBA.

“Kevin comes from a family with, to be honest with you, two educated parents who are not in need. We don’t need for Kevin to go out and buy us a house or buy us a car or something,” Knox Sr. said. “So it’s really for Kevin — if he enjoys Kentucky basketball like he does, you know what? Kevin may want to stay. He gets great grades in school. I was shocked, dude got an ‘A’ in statistics, and I got a ‘B’ in it. Kevin is a very smart guy, and he may want to stay in school. It’s not a foregone conclusion. He really loves Kentucky.

“He really was having fun at the end and I don’t know if he wants to let that go. He wanted a national championship.”

If Knox comes back to school, that goal would become a very real possibility.

The post One-and-done? Father of Kentucky star Kevin Knox says not so fast appeared first on SEC Country.

Kyle Tucker – SEC Country