By Antonio R. Harvey | OBSERVER Staff Writer
Veteran college and international coach David Patrick was officially introduced April 5 as Sacramento State 15th men’s basketball head coach.
Patrick, 46, comes to Sac State after one season as an assistant at the University of Oklahoma.
“I was in a good spot in Oklahoma and had no reason to leave unless it was for a great opportunity,” Patrick said. “People said, ‘Why Sac State? You’re at a Power 5 job.’ But I see this place as somewhere you can compete for a Big Sky Conference championship, yearly.”
Patrick, who also has held assistant and associate head-coaching jobs with Nicholls State, St. Mary’s, Louisiana State, Texas Christian and Arkansas, replaces Brandon Laird. Laird served as interim coach in 2021-22 after Brian Katz retired just before the season because of health issues. The Hornets finished 11-18 overall and 6-14 in the Big Sky.
His lone head-coaching job was a two-year stint at the University of California, Riverside. In his first season (2019-20) the Highlanders were 17-15 after they had gone 9-22 the year before. UC Riverside’s 17 wins that season were the most in its Division I history. The Highlanders led the Big West Conference and ranked eighth nationally in scoring defense (60.6 ppg).
Patrick was a finalist for two national honors that season: the Hugh Durham Coach of the Year award, given annually to the most outstanding Division I mid-major men’s college basketball head coach; and the Ben Jobe Coach of the Year award, presented to the top Division I minority coach.
At a news conference at the Welcome Center for the new coach, his wife, Cassie, and their two daughters, Sac State Athletic Director Mark Orr said Patrick’s “vision” and values as a leader of student-athletes “align perfectly” with the Hornets’ sports program.
A renowned recruiter with worldwide connections, Patrick already has signed 6-9 forward Hunter Marks, who is transferring from Hartford with one year of eligibility remaining. Patrick has been a part of winning teams at every level of his 17-year coaching career. He has recruited 11 National Basketball Association (NBA) players, including seven who were drafted.
He has coached 28 players who have played professionally, including 19 in the NBA. During the process to fill the position Orr said Patrick’s name and reputation dominated conversations.
“The position itself got significant interest across the country, quite frankly, across the world,” Orr said. “Everyone and anyone was talking about Sacramento State’s head basketball coach opening. One constant name came up during the process and that was David Patrick. He believes in our vision and he wants to be at Sacramento State.”
Several Hornets players who attended the news conference showered praise on Laird, who was on the Hornets’ staff for nine seasons.
“I hadn’t had a coach that was about sticking with me, believing in me, and not just saying it but showing it with his actions,” junior guard Zach Chappell, seated in the third row at the news conference with teammate Cameron Wilbon, said of Laird. “I love him to death and can’t thank him enough.”
Chappell, who graduated from Capital Christian High School in 2018, said the returning players already have begun preparing for next season with Patrick.
“We just wanted to make it known to everybody that we are behind coach Patrick,” Chappell told The OBSERVER. “We trust him and we appreciate him. He’s a legend in my eyes. We’re all really excited to play for him. He’s gonna have us ready to play.”
A native of Bermuda who moved to Melbourne, Australia, at 10, Patrick played in 28 games his freshman season at Syracuse, where he helped the 1995-96 squad reach the NCAA championship game.
He transferred to the University of Louisiana-Lafayette (then named Southwestern Louisiana) where he finished his college career and earned his undergraduate degree in 2000. Patrick played four years professionally in Australia, England, and Spain.
Patrick then began pursuing coaching. He helped put together impressive recruiting classes at Nicholls State, St. Mary’s, Louisiana State, Texas Christian and Arkansas under some of college basketball’s brightest coaching minds, including Porter Moser of Oklahoma, Eric Musselman of Arkansas, Randy Bennett of St. Mary’s and Jamie Dixon of Texas Christian.
Patrick has been an assistant for Australia’s national team since 2019 and coached in the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo. He helped lead Australia to fourth in the FIBA World Championships in 2019.
Patrick said he has a success rate of getting his players to graduate and his student-athletes have a “3.2 grade-point average, which I would prefer to be higher,” he said.
Patrick’s high-mileage coaching résumé is by design. He has placed himself in good situations with coaching masters, but he said Sac State will keep him and his family stable.
“This isn’t a stepping(stone) job for me. I have two girls, one in 10th grade and the other in sixth grade, and I am not trying to jump spots,” Patrick said. “If you look at my résumé, I’ve moved a bit in a year or two but that’s not what we’re about. We’re about staying somewhere and staying here to make it last.”