Villanova has successfully developed small forwards in its program in recent years, with Josh Hart and Mikal Bridges reaching the NBA and winning the Julius Erving Award as the nation’s best player at the position, a path that Saddiq Bey — also an Erving Award winner — is following to the next level.
Trey Patterson, a 6-foot-8 small forward at Rutgers Prep School in Somerset, N.J., liked the looks of that as he narrowed his offers down to three finalists. He made his ultimate decision final Thursday night, selecting the Wildcats over Indiana and Florida for the freshman class of 2021.
“Their emphasis is on developing players,” Patterson said in a telephone interview. “They have had small forwards that have gone on to be successful in the NBA, like Mikal Bridges, Josh Hart, recently Saddiq Bey. If they’ve developed those guys and helped them become successful in the NBA, then they can do the same for me.”
Patterson, a second-team all-state pick, averaged 19.8 points and 10.1 rebounds last season for a Rutgers Prep team that finished 27-2 and reached the final of the Non Public-B South group. He compiled 19 double-doubles in 29 games. A consensus four-star recruit, he is ranked No. 26 by ESPN, No. 28 by Rivals and No. 34 by 247Sports.
Patterson said he took an unofficial visit to Villanova last fall accompanied by his parents, both of whom were college basketball players, went on a tour of the school and watched a practice. He said he admired the players’ attitude and the way they approached practice.
“Everything was game speed, everyone was going hard,” he said. “They really had a focus on development. After their practice, I got to sit down and meet with the players and kind of get to know them a little bit. So it was a good experience and I’m looking forward to getting to know everyone more.”
Patterson said he built a good relationship with head coach Jay Wright and his staff which developed further during quarantine.
“They’ve been great over these past couple of months,” he said. “I’ve had a Zoom with Coach Wright every week talking about different things — their plan for me, going over some plays and things of that nature. He just emphasized that I can fit into their system and really excel and develop my game to reach the next level.”
He said he feels his versatility is a strength of his game, being able to play and guard multiple positions, handle the basketball and block shots. As for the three-point shot, he reported that he feels he’s a good shooter from deep but that he is working on becoming more consistent.