July 11, 2011

Patterson doing it differently

Kevin McCarthy

Isn't it impossible for a player in the Bay Area to be in the 2012 class, possess mid-and-moving-to-high-major potential yet be unknown? What with this camp and that event taking place year-around, wouldn't it take a clandestine-like effort of Manhattan Project proportions in order for such a talent to go so undetected? The answers to both queries are 'not really' as you meet Christopher Patterson, who is working towards making noise in recruiting circles.

photo of Christopher Patterson

Word has just started to get out because Patterson is playing his first season for Coach Ryant Diew and the Oakland Rebels. His club team participation prior to this has been intermittent and his school, Muhammad University of Islam in Oakland, doesn't field athletic teams. So we may very well have a real life version here of Sidd Finch, the late George Plimpton's fictional baseball pitcher.

So who is the 6-foot-6, 206 pound Patterson?

First off, a well spoken young man who values education above all else. Basketball is certainly right up there for him but he understands and appreciates the education-comes-first hierarchy. "I really like academics," he explained, adding, "and without them, there's no basketball for me. I have to have 3.0 GPA or higher or it's no basketball."

He is also someone who attributes any and all of his life success to his family. As he described it, "During my whole life, my father hasn't been around. My mother, grandfather and grandmother have been raising me and through thick and thin they made me who I am."

Plus on the basketball court, he really enjoys defending. "I like defense, especially blocking shots."

Patterson understands his current strengths and weaknesses. "I need improvement in my postup game," he offered, "I have a nice turnaround jumpshot but need to add post moves."

Here Coach Diew on his newcomer: "Christopher has a huge upside. He is raw, relying on athleticism as a shotblocker and rebounder but he has an excellent jump shot from the foul line and a nice touch. He is willing to work hard and the sky is the limit. The key in the future is getting to a school that would be patient with him."

It's been his mother and grandfather as his biggest basketball influences. About the latter, Patterson said, "when I was young, my grandfather would tell me stories about when he played -- he was real athletic."

Still evolving (as we all are or should be), he gladly discussed the basketball and individual changes he has witnessed in himself in the last few years: "I see a huge change. At the beginning of my sophomore year, I was watching the NBA and got a bit cocky and was being a ballhog. Now I know there is no need to be cocky or a ballhog, it's just give 100% and play as a team."

Personally, "the way I talk is tremendously different I talked crazy [when I was younger] but I've grown up. I watch people. When someone says something stupid to me, I won't react. I just shake my head and won't go down to their level."

He is already interested in sports medicine with the idea of becoming a brain surgeon.

Recruiting has yet to get serious but that will soon change as the Rebels hit the Midwest and then Vegas and southern California this month. Patterson's early thoughts on the subject: "I would like to remain in California. I don't want to go far away where you have nobody supporting you if you get off track."

Despite his lack of experience, he has already enjoyed some memorable moments on the court. "When I was little and at elementary school, we were down by one with five seconds left and I hit a 15-footer, nothing but net. Three weeks ago with McClymonds (he played with the Mack team in a local tourney), I dunked on someone on a body-to-body contact buzzer beater" and repeated that effort in another game.

One of those tournaments was located at St. Mary's College in Moraga and Patterson took a major liking to the area and campus. That spurred him to start researching the Gael basketball program and what he has discovered has advanced his interest in Randy Bennett's program.

Despite briefly appearing with McClymonds this summer, Patterson will not be playing high school basketball. His primary focus will remain on his academics but is working with Mike Wright, a mentor/life coach/basketball trainer. Wright offered this about Patterson: "I immediately saw a natural athlete but also a young man who is smart and not just athletic. Christopher adapts and adjusts at a rapid speed and he doesn't have any bad habits because he is new at this."

Some may say Patterson has sacrificed basketball for education although even attempting such a contention is actually value-reversed.

When he signs a letter-of-intent (and it is a question of when and not if), Patterson will be a groundbreaker of sorts. Being academic centric, analytical and thoughtful despite his meager years and not participating in high school athletics places him in a position to serve as an inspiration to others, both African-American and not.