Justin Patton gave North Texas all it could handle last season, when he was a star at Grambling and one of the best players in the SWAC.
Now he will have a chance to give the Mean Green a boost heading into a year of transition for the program.
Patton enrolled at UNT during the offseason and finally cleared the last hurdle to officially join the Mean Green on Wednesday. The 6-7 forward will have one year of eligibility remaining.
"Justin will be a great addition to our basketball team and give us some much-needed depth," UNT head coach Johnny Jones said. "He has the ability to play both ends of the floor and has a great knack for scoring and rebounding. That is a great combination for us because of what we lost last year with George Odufuwa."
Jones saw up close what Patton was capable of last season, when he scored 26 points and grabbed 10 rebounds in UNT's 89-78 win over Grambling at the Super Pit. Those totals were all the more impressive considering Patton played just 29 minutes due to foul trouble.
UNT found out this summer that Patton was considering transferring for his senior season after Grambling received a one-year postseason ban because of a poor performance on the NCAA's Academic Progress Rate report.
That ban gave Patton the chance to transfer.
UNT had one last scholarship to give and snatched up Patton, who could bolster the Mean Green's frontcourt rotation. Odufuwa graduated after last season, when he averaged 11.2 points and 10.4 rebounds a game.
UNT returns just two true post players in Kedrick Hogans and Alonzo Edwards, who both battled lingering knee injuries throughout the season.
Jacob Holmen can play the power forward spot, but he was more effective at small forward last season.
Tony Mitchell, one of the top-rated recruits to sign with UNT in any sport in recent years, can play in the post and on the wing, but is not scheduled to become eligible until December.
Patton should be more than just another player to fill out UNT's frontcourt until Mitchell is ready to join the lineup, though.
"Justin is a very competitive basketball player who played a lot last year and had a great deal of success against us," Jones said. "I was impressed with him last year. He was very efficient."
Patton will join a UNT team that will have a completely different look next season. Odufuwa, Josh White and Tristan Thompson, three players who were staples in the starting lineup for several years, completed their careers last season.
UNT will look to rebuild around a few key veterans like Hogans, Holmen and Edwards while working in one of the best recruiting classes in program history.
UNT signed a class that included four players ranked among the top 30 players in Texas by Texashoops.com and later added Mitchell, Oklahoma State transfer Roger Franklin and Niko Stojilkovic, a member of the French under-18 national team.
"We were extremely fortunate," Jones said. "We had a scholarship available when we found [Patton] was looking to transfer."
BRETT VITO can be reached at 940-566-6870. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org .