Fort Wayne athletic development strategy appeals to Kansas State transfer Brian Patrick
While a lot of college basketball programs were recently sweating out decisions by their top players as to whether or not they would turn pro, the Fort Wayne coaches weren’t concerned about that topic at all.
The Mastodon coaches know that a payday will come at some point for their best student-athletes, but you can’t RUSH the process as they TRUST the process.
Veteran Fort Wayne coach Jon Coffman graduated three seniors off of this past year’s squad and it remains to be seen which ones ultimately sign professional contracts (though there is no debate as to whether or not leading scorer Bryson Scott will). But if all three do, that will place 15 Mastodons into the professional ranks from the past seven seasons.
“That is something that kind of sells itself,” Coffman told News-Sentinel.com. “And all of those guys earned their degrees. Everyone that has finished their senior year with us has graduated.”
Those two benefits – the pro career and earning a degree – appealed to Brian Patrick.
The 6-foot-5 wing is transferring to Fort Wayne following two seasons with national power Kansas State.
“He is really interested in player development,” Coffman said of Patrick, “and wants to play basketball after college.”
Patrick spent the past two seasons coming off the bench for the Wildcats and helping them win 46 games and qualify for a couple of NCAA Tournaments, including an Elite Eight appearance this spring.
He saw action in 49 games in his two seasons and played double-figure minutes nine times this year.
Patrick notched a career-best 11 points in 18 minutes in a road loss at West Virginia during his freshman season and in that game, he connected on all four shots, including 3-for-3 from beyond the arc.
“We’re excited about him,” Coffman said. “We were looking to sit out a big guard and he really, really shoots it. If you look back to his freshman year, he really won some games for Kansas State.”
That “sit out” comment shouldn’t be dismissed casually, because that has played a pivotal role in the development of those aforementioned pro players.
The Fort Wayne program has a history of either transfer student-athletes or freshmen spending a year developing as “redshirts” and Coffman said that philosophy will benefit Patrick, as well.
“We’ve had a lot of success with transfers,” Coffman explained. “Guys that have used that sit-out year, that redshirt year, which we call your ‘Pro year.'”
Last season, three of the top four scorers (Scott, John Konchar, and Xzavier Taylor) all spent a year developing without competing, while the year before it was four of the top six.
In the 2014-15 season, the 2015 Summit League Player of the Year (Max Landis) evolved into a star following his extra practice time.
This coming season, six of the 10 returning Mastodons will have spent a season as a redshirt.
“We identify weaknesses,” Coffman said of the strategy for those seasons, “we attack those weaknesses. We’ve been really, really good at changing bodies, whether trimming up or getting stronger or getting bigger by adding weight.”
Patrick also is a natural fit due to his personal history.
He played at Boyd Anderson High School in Fort Lauderdale, which is the same school that produced Fort Wayne’s all-time leading scorer (Frank Gaines).
It was a Cobra coach that connected Patrick and Coffman and aided the transfer situation.
“It was a natural relationship and fit for us,” Coffman said of the connection. “It worked out nicely. We got in on the front end of his transfer but also it was identified very early in the process that we would be a good fit for him. Relationships are so key, particularly on the second round.”
Patrick will sit out the 2018-19 season and have two years eligibility. The Mastodons have now used all 13 scholarships for the 2018 recruiting class.
For more on college basketball, follow Tom Davis on Twitter at Tom101010, Facebook at Thomas Davis, and Instagram at tomdavis101010.