David Patrick takes assistant position with Oklahoma Sooners
Bermudian-born David Patrick is on to his next challenge in college basketball in the United States after accepting the assistant head coach position at the University of Oklahoma.
The 45-year-old former Houston Rockets scout, who was raised in Australia and will be heading to the Olympics as an assistant coach, is just off a stellar single season at Arkansas where, as associate head coach under Eric Musselman, he helped to guide them to the Elite Eight of the NCAA Tournament for the first time in 26 years.
But the lure of moving to the Big 12 Conference to work with longtime friend and new Oklahoma head coach Porter Moser proved too great.
“I’m very close to Porter Moser the head coach,” Patrick told The Royal Gazette yesterday. “He is a fantastic coach, but more importantly a fantastic person, who is one of the best in the business.
“The OU basketball programme has a tradition of excellence both on and off the court. They have tremendous leadership from top to bottom.”
Patrick is highly regarded as a recruiter whose greatest achievement in that sphere was getting Ben Simmons, to put pen to paper for LSU.
Simmons, born in Australia, played one season at LSU before becoming the No 1 draft pick in 2016 and joining the Philadelphia 76ers, where he has developed into a three-times NBA All-Star guard.
Rumours that he might be leaving the Razorbacks after only one season grew when top junior college power forward Akol Mawein gained a release from his letter of intent to join Arkansas after he had been recruited by Patrick.
His season at Arkansas was one of achievement, despite the unique circumstances brought on by Covid-19. The Razorbacks finished with a 25-7 overall record, which included 13-4 in the much vaunted Southeastern Conference and runs to the final of the SEC Tournament, where they were beaten by LSU, and the last eight of the NCAA Tournament, where they were put out by ultimate champions Baylor.
Patrick took over head coaching duties for one game on December 22 when Musselman was unavailable to coach against Abilene Christian because of contact-tracing protocols. With just hours of advance notice, Patrick stepped in and led Arkansas to an impressive 85-72 win.
“Arkansas was a positive move for me,” Patrick said. “We had great young men who exceeded expectations of all. To make it to the Elite Eight, in this Covid season, was amazing. The fans and athletic department are first-class, and it was an experience that we will never forget. Very grateful.”
Before joining the staff at Arkansas, Patrick served two seasons as head coach at the University of California-Riverside, where he orchestrated an impressive turnaround in the programme. Patrick posted a 27-38 record with the Highlanders, the best two-year start in school history.
He had inherited a programme that won only nine games the season before his arrival and pushed that number up to 17 in the 2019-20 season, which tied the most wins in Division I programme history at UC-Riverside. For his efforts, Patrick was named a finalist for a pair of national Coach of the Year awards.
Patrick, who signed a two-year contract with Arkansas last summer, is leaving the Razorbacks without having to pay a buyout. He would have owed $400,000 — his annual salary — if he had left before May 1 for another assistant coaching job.
The buyout did not apply if Patrick left for a head coaching position. He also had a non-compete clause in his contract prohibiting him from going to another SEC school as an assistant coach.
Patrick, who was interviewed for head coaching positions at San Jose State and Texas-El Paso, would have made $600,000 – including a $200,000 retention bonus – if he had stayed with the Razorbacks through the end of the 2021-22 season.
The Oklahoma Sooners had a 16-12 record in 2020-21 and got to the second round of the NCAA Tournament before losing 87-71 to Gonzaga, the longtime No 1 and ultimate runners-up.
“I think the expectations are winning at a high level and striving to win a national championship,” Patrick said. “The programme has made it to numerous Final Fours, but the goal is to try and compete for a national championship one day.”