STARKVILLE, Miss. - Two days removed from signing four heralded basketball players, Mississippi State women's basketball coach Vic Schaefer wrapped the early signing period by inking prized in-state recruit Kiandria "Kiki" Patterson of Columbus High School to a national letter of intent.
In addition to Patterson, Schaefer's first Bulldog signing class includes Ketara Chapel, the top-rated power forward in Texas; fellow Texan Dominique Dillingham, who is averaging 21.3 points and 13 rebounds for Class 5A Klein Collins High School; Georgia Super 64 recruit Breanna Richardson of Rockdale County High School in Conyers, Ga.; and 6-foot-5 Chinwe Okorie, a Lagos, Nigeria, native who is currently attending Stoneleigh-Burnham Prep School in Greenfield, Mass.
"We are excited to be getting the best player in the state of Mississippi. We saw Kiki play last week, and watching her competitiveness and will to win was exciting," Schaefer said. "She competes to the very last play, and she has a presence on the floor that is required out of the point-guard position."
Prior to the 2012-13 season, the 5-foot-9 guard was rated by FILA as the top senior guard in the state. She also claimed a second-straight Clarion-Ledger Dandy Dozen selection, as well as being named one of the MHSAA Fab 15 Seniors by High School Sports in Mississippi.
"I'm excited about playing for Mississippi State," Patterson said. "It will be a challenge, but I'm excited about the next four years playing alongside the other four girls that signed as well as the players on the team now.
"I really like the family atmosphere," she added. "The coaches recruited me hard and got to know me in such a short amount of time, and that meant a lot."
Last season, Patterson averaged 20.4 points, 7.7 rebounds, three steals and three assists per game to help guide Yvonne Hairston's Lady Falcons to a 25-3 record and the Mississippi Class 6A North State semifinals.
"Kiki is a leader who is very disciplined on the court," Hairston said. "She works hard and is a versatile player who will fit in with what Coach Schaefer wants to do at Mississippi State. She can shoot outside, drive to the rim or dish it to a teammate. Kiki is a physical player who is strong and can shoot any shot at any range. Whatever you need her to do, she will do."
Her outstanding efforts on the court as a junior earned her The Commercial Dispatch Large Schools co-Player of the Year accolades.
That stellar season came on the heels of a sophomore campaign that saw the left-hander score at a 27.3 clip and average seven rebounds and six assists as Columbus had its season come to an end one game shy of advancing to the state tournament.
Patterson made the state take notice of her abilities early in her prep career. She scored 44 points against Newton County as a sophomore, following up a freshman campaign that saw her average 16 points per game, including 41 points in one contest.
Patterson plays AAU basketball for Team Memphis Elite.
"First of all, give all the credit to my staff and our current team for an outstanding job this fall in helping recruit this class. We went 5-for-5 in official visits to campus, and that doesn't happen very often," Schaefer said of his first signing class. "So many people here at Mississippi State helped in the recruiting process. Our faculty and administration can take great pride in this class as well."I have often said that I have the A-Team as my staff, and Coach Harris, Coach Franklin, Coach Hudson and Maryann Baker, my Director of Operations, were instrumental in making this class happen," Schaefer added. "This is a very proud day for me personally and professionally, and it should be for Mississippi State University as well. The character of this class alone, not to mention their basketball skill set, will impact this University for years to come."