State Colleges

Patterson's big gamble paying off in Hutchinson

Admittedly, it's never one thing that usually makes you leave a place. Ultimately, it's a lot of different factors sparking those feelings. But it's usually one thing — one instance — that pushes you over the edge.

For Jackie Patterson, it was not having access to her complete wardrobe.

"I was recruited by Wichita State out of high school and I committed and signed there with my twin sister, Jasmine, but she didn't qualify," Patterson said. "So the plan was for her to play two years at Hutchinson (Community College), become a qualifier and then come play with me at WSU.

"So I came and spent the summer in Wichita taking classes. And it was just a lot of drama, the whole summer. Finally, the coaching staff said I could go home because I didn't have all my clothes and I needed to go back to Texas to get them.

"And then they told me I couldn't."

And with that, the Frisco, Texas, native headed south to get her clothes, then back up north — and then a little west — to Hutchinson to join her sister.

And it's been a gamble that's paying off ever since.

Patterson is the centerpiece for the Blue Dragons this season after earning second-team NJCAA All-American honors last season along with being named the Jayhawk West's player of the year and freshman of the year.

The 6-foot-1 forward averaged 13.8 points and 7.5 rebounds last season and is now being courted by Missouri, Nebraska, Kansas and North Carolina State, among others.

Hutchinson is ranked No. 7 in the preseason NJCAA Top 25.

"Jackie has the ability to create baskets for us in situations where we need them," Hutchinson coach John Ontjes said. "She's an athletic kid who has the skill level of a major Division I player.

"The goal that we have for Jackie this year is to be a better leader... she's such a great team player and plays within the system but we want to get more out of her demanding the basketball and being assertive on offense."

Patterson's main goal in coming to Hutchinson was to try and re-open her recruitment with her play. Leading the Blue Dragons to a Jayhawk West title and a runner-up finish at the Region VI Tournament did that.

Now, she's back with a ton of talent around her. Point guard Alysse Barlow averaged 13.5 points and 5.6 assists and was also an All-Jayhawk West selection. Also back is forward Lanicia Lawrence (9.8 points).

" (Barlow) is a really talented point guard," Patterson said. "I feel lucky to have someone like that feeding me the ball."

KCAC freshman of the year Laura Patrick, a Hutchinson native, is also in the mix after transferring from Sterling College.

"We've talked about with our kids that we may look good on paper this year, but we haven't done anything as a group," Ontjes said. "Our goal, as a group, is to leave our legacy at HCC."

And with that, the sting of a 46-45 loss to Cloud County in last season's Region VI title game still lingers.

"Losing in Region VI is still something we think about," Patterson said. "But in order to get back to that point, we've got a really tough conference we have to get through."