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Will Pitt Basketball's Lamar Patterson Break Out In 2012?

Patterson is one of the Panthers' most versatile players.

NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 10: Lamar Patterson #21 of the Pittsburgh Panthers dribbles past Markel Brown #22 of the Oklahoma State Cowboys at Madison Square Garden on December 10, 2011 in New York City.  (Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 10: Lamar Patterson #21 of the Pittsburgh Panthers dribbles past Markel Brown #22 of the Oklahoma State Cowboys at Madison Square Garden on December 10, 2011 in New York City. (Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images)
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With Ashton Gibbs and Nasir Robinson leading the way last season, Lamar Patterson and others sat in the background a bit. But with the graduation of the two players, Patterson and others will need to step up this fall.

Patterson averaged nine points a game in the regular season, but upped that to more than 13 in Pitt's postseason, in playing in the CBI tournament. Of the candidates from last year's team to step up, he might be the most capable of doing so. Two newcomers, transfer Trey Zeigler and recruit Steven Adams will be able to take on some of the offensive responsibility, but Zeigler will be in his first season in Pitt's system and Adams isn't known as a dominant scorer.

In this year's Greentree Summer League, Patterson's offensive skills have been on full display. He's leading all Pitt players in scoring, averaging about 19 points a game, and has also hit the 20-point mark in two of the four games he's played.

One reason Patterson's offensive game is so strong is because he can score a variety of ways. He's shown his ability to get to the basket and last season, showed off a three-point shot on occasion. Last year, he connected from downtown 41 times and made just over 40% of his attempts. Patterson also made great strides in his shooting, hitting a career best 44% from the field in 2011-12. In the previous season, he made only 34% of his attempts and really became far more accurate last year.

And if you think Patterson's game is limited to scoring, think again. He led the team in steals last year and his 5.3 rebounds and 3.6 assists per game are both second most of any returning player. Patterson's true value is that he's perhaps the team's most versatile player.

Other players may have bigger seasons for Pitt next year, but Patterson is poised for a breakout year and should be one of the team's most valuable players.

For more on Pitt basketball, check out SB Nation's Pitt blog, Cardiac Hill.

Photographs by dizfunk used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.