After Trotwood-Madison dropped a 62-60 heart-breaker to Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary in a Division II state semifinal Thursday, the biggest question was not what changed from the first meeting between the schools.
Considering that boys high school basketball regular-season contest was really none at all — a 100-61 blitz by the Rams in January — that should have come as a surprise.
Boys Basketball: Crushing loss for Trotwood-Madison in state semis
But instead, one of the topics at the top of the mind of both coaches was the future for Rams guard Torrey Patton.
Although his team came up short, the 6-foot-4 senior guard was magnificent, scoring 34 points to go with 11 rebounds.
Midway through the fourth quarter, he broke a 54-all tie with daring drives to the basket on back-to-back possessions, but he also was stripped of the ball at midcourt with 32 seconds to go as the Rams were trying to hold for the last shot in a tie game.
Of course, Trotwood would have never been in that situation without his making 13 of 26 shots. The rest of the team was 8 for 31.
“What I saw from Torrey was the same thing I’ve seen from him all year,” Trotwood coach Rocky Rockhold said. “When his team is struggling, he knows he’s got to put them on his back and he does. I can promise you this: Torrey would have much rather had 10 points and 20 assists and a win than those 34 points from what I know about Torrey Patton. They’re great for him when it comes to moving on and playing at the next level, but I’m not real sure what else a guy like Torrey has to do for offers to start flowing in.”
Although Patton was a first-team All-Ohio pick and shared Division II state player of the year honors with Jayvon Graves of Akron SVSM, his only scholarship offers are from West Virginia State (NCAA D-II) and Sylvania-based Lourdes College (NAIA).
“Well, clearly I’m the dumbest guy around because I would have signed Torrey two years ago,” Rockhold said. “I’ve been promoting him for years and I’m not sure why teams haven’t offered Torrey when I’ve thought they should.”
Of course, one would expect Patton’s coach to come to the defense of one of his guys. What about the guy who coached LeBron James in high school?
“He’s a very good player,” said Akron SVSM coach Dru Joyce, who was the coach of the Fighting Irish for the last two years of James’ storied prep career. “Someone was telling me — I couldn’t believe it — that (Patton) doesn’t have any Division I scholarship offers. I’m like, ‘How could he not?’ He’s a 6-4 point guard who can go either way, he can shoot. I just don’t understand what coaches at the next level aren’t seeing in his game because he is a very, very good player.”
Patton sounded just as vexed about his lack of major offers, but was appreciative of the kind words.
“It’s a good feeling,” he said. “I don’t know what else I’ve got to prove to be a college prospect. I’ve played in the summer league with other guys and held my own against them. I just don’t know.”
He is still in contact with some D-I schools but “no heavy interest, just texting. That’s it really.”
For now, he plans to commit to one of the schools that has offered. While his situation is surprising, it is not without precedent.
READ MORE from Marcus Hartman at his new ‘Cus Words Blog’
Ten years ago, Norris Cole played on Dunbar state title teams as a junior and senior, but he lacked high interest from NCAA D-I schools as his Wolverines career wrapped up.
Cole received a late offer from Cleveland State, became a star for the Vikings and won two NBA championships with James’ Miami Heat.
It’s tough to predict things will turn out that well for Patton, but he made a strong last impression.
“Again, I still don’t understand how he’s not a (NCAA) Division I signee,” Joyce said. “If I’m a Division I coach, I’m gonna recruit him. But maybe that’s why I’m still in high school.”