By Patrick Patterson
July 19, 2010

Former Kentucky star Patrick Patterson decided to forego his senior season to enter the NBA draft, where he was selected 14th overall by the Rockets. In the fourth installment of his diary, the 6-foot-9, 235-pounder from Huntington, W.Va., talks about his experiences in the NBA Summer League in Las Vegas, where he averaged 9.2 points and 7.2 rebounds in 28.2 minutes per game.

What's up everyone? Just finished my first NBA Summer League in Las Vegas, and it was great. But before I went out there, our team had two-a-days in Houston and while I was in town I got a chance to scout out my new home. Some of my new teammates helped me find a nice, gated community near a grocery store and some fun spots to go out to at night, and though I'm still learning all the great places in the Houston area, I've already explored the The Galleria shopping center and found a great soul food restaurant in Midtown.

I flew to Vegas on July 8 and was en route with some of my teammates when LeBron announced "The Decision." I thought he might go to Chicago, but the Miami choice didn't surprise me. I think people are being too critical of LeBron; I'm sure he would have wanted to win a title in Cleveland, but he just didn't think he could. You go to the NBA to play basketball and to win championships. You can't blame a guy for wanting to win championships. I think it's wrong for people to portray him as an villain.

When we first heard the news, one of my teammates was like, "Man, I'm glad we only have to play them twice!" It cracked me up, though I can't say I disagree. That team will be a monster, so I'm glad they're in the Eastern Conference.

Right now, my primary focus is the Rockets. We left Vegas on July 14, and it felt good to get back on the court. But it was definitely challenging. The NBA has different rules, schemes, techniques and movement than college. The pro game is so physical, even in Summer League, and it's tough to remember all the plays and defensive rotations. In college, a lot of the time it's just about going out there and playing ball. In the NBA, as I'm finding out, if you don't score on a fast break, you have to run a play.

I took the Summer League experience as an opportunity to try to soak in as much information as possible, since I have so much to learn. On a typical day, I'd wake up around 10:30 or 11, order some room service and then head to the team trainer's room to pick up my jersey, warm-ups and the rest of the gear. About an hour later, we would head to the gym to play.

One of my goals is to getting used to shooting the NBA three - which, at the top of the arc, is four feet farther from the goal than the NCAA line -- in game situations. I've been really working to improve my outside shot because it'll be key to helping our team win, since Yao Ming attracts so many double teams in the post.

I had a lot of free time during my days there, and since it was my first time being over 21 in Vegas I got to really enjoy the city. One night I was at one of the clubs at The Palms and DJ Jazzy Jeff from The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air was there. I recognized him right away because he was dressed just like his character in the show. It was hilarious.

We ended up going 3-2 in Summer League play, which is OK, but we really wanted to go undefeated. Fans probably think we don't care about winning or losing in Summer League games, but our coaching staff really emphasized to us the importance of winning, even in what seems like a few meaningless games.

I don't know how many of the guys on the Summer League team will be with us when the season starts, but I really hope [guard] Ishmael Smith from Wake Forest makes the squad. He put on some great performances and he's a great guy to have around [Smith had double-doubles in his last two games, while averaging 7.8 points on 58.1 percent shooting and a team-high 4.8 assists in Vegas.]

Early last week I signed my rookie contract. Even though I knew it was more of a formality, it was still an unbelievable feeling. It ranks right up there with being drafted because it's like the team, the city and the people were accepting me. When you put your name on that dotted line, it's settled. You're signing your life to a team, and committing to being a part of something bigger than yourself.

I'm headed back to Lexington for a few days to see everyone from Kentucky before I take a much-needed vacation in Florida. It's been a crazy past few months, so I'm going to hit the beach and try to relax.

When I get back to Houston, I'm throwing out the first pitch at an Astros game and attending an MLS exhibition game between the Dynamo and Manchester United. You already know I'm a big soccer fan, and just like I predicted, Spain won the World Cup. Of course, I wanted the U.S. to win, but I said before the start of the Cup that Spain was going to win, and I was right.

Catch you all next time!

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