Rumors of Addison Patterson being on the outs with Nevada had been circulating for weeks.
There was enough smoke I asked the Wolf Pack on Monday if Patterson remained “a player in good standing on the roster.” I was told there was no update on his status with the team. Two days later, on Wednesday afternoon, Nevada released a 12-word statement: “Addison Patterson is no longer part of the Nevada Men’s Basketball Program.”
It’s a significant loss for the Wolf Pack. Patterson, who signed with Nevada last November and joined the team as a redshirting practice player in January, was a former top-50 recruit. He was good enough to play rotation minutes as a true freshman at Oregon in 2019-20 for a Ducks team that peaked at No. 4 in the nation.
A 6-foot-6 wing, Patterson was a big reason why Wolf Pack fans could dream big about potentially being in the Top 25 next season while competing for a Mountain West championship. His stats at Oregon two years ago weren’t mindboggling — 4.6 points, 1.3 rebounds, 56.3 percent shooting in 11 minutes per game — but he did that in what should have been his senior season of high school. This was a player who could have been an All-MW honoree this season. And he had three years of eligibility left.
If everything worked out as planned, he could have been a leading scorer on an NCAA Tournament-caliber team. Instead, we’ll add him to the next iteration of our Mark McLaughlin All-Stars (the top players to sign with Nevada but never play a game for the team).
It doesn’t come as huge shock that Patterson joins that list. He did have some issues at Oregon, which included a one-game suspension for a team rules violation. While Nevada’s release didn’t expand past those 12 words above, there was a cultural issue here, and the Wolf Pack cut that off at the pass before it impacted the team too much, although it’s never great to invest a semester of scholarship and practice time in a player who never suits up for you. It was a risk. It didn’t work out. Nevada moved on.
The silver lining in Patterson’s departure is it opens a scholarship for the Wolf Pack, which was at the NCAA max of 13 scholarship players before Patterson’s departure. The timeline on things over the last week has been interesting. On Monday, Patterson was still a member of the Wolf Pack. Later that day, Robert Morris transfer AJ Bramah, who picked Arizona State over Nevada in March, decommitted from the Sun Devils. On Wednesday, Patterson was no longer on the team. Also Wednesday, Bramah announced he’d be picking a new school Friday.
The San Leandro, Calif., native was high on Nevada until committing to Arizona State. If some academic things can be sorted out on that front, Patterson’s scholarship with the Wolf Pack might only be vacant for 48 hours. We could be reading too much into this timeline, but everything lines up. Bramah is a different player than Patterson despite being similar in height. A 6-7, 210-pounder, he’s best suited as an undersized power forward, a position of need for the Wolf Pack, which signed Wichita State transfer Trey Wade to fill that role last month only to see him decommit a couple of weeks later.
Nevada recently signed Florida Atlantic transfer Kenan Blackshear, a 6-6 wing who wasn’t seeing major minutes if Patterson remained with the Wolf Pack. With this week’s news, Blackshear is in line for a much bigger role in 2021-22. And if the Wolf Pack adds Bramah, Wade’s old undersized power forward role is filled. Nevada would have essentially swapped Patterson (small forward, three years of eligibility) and Wade (power forward, one year of eligibility) for Blackshear (small forward, three years of eligibility) and Bramah (power forward, one year of eligibility).
The constant roster churn for college basketball teams can keep your head spinning, but it does keep what is usually a dull period in the sport interesting. Patterson’s departure isn’t a positive development, but adding Bramah — 21 points, 10.3 rebounds per game for Robert Morris last season, albeit in the Northeast Conference — would dull the loss. He doesn’t have as much upside or as many years of eligibility remaining, but he’d be an impact player at a position of need.
What if Nevada doesn’t land Bramah? The Wolf Pack will keep sorting through the transfer portal for best fits, potentially pocketing the last scholarship for a midyear transfer like Texas’ Will Baker, who Nevada landed last year. Even if Bramah does commit to Nevada on Friday, there’s no way to be 100 percent certain the Wolf Pack roster doesn’t change again.
Steve Alford, who has done an excellent job reshaping the Wolf Pack entering his third season, said in April “I think we’re done” when asked if his roster was set. Since then, two players have left (Patterson and Wade) and one has been added (Blackshear). With an open scholarship, more changes are coming. That’s just the nature of modern college basketball.
Columnist Chris Murray provides insight on Northern Nevada sports. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @ByChrisMurray.