Danielle Patterson is a different kind of freshman.
The Medgar Evers’s girls’ hoops star sure doesn’t carry herself like one — on or off the court. The 6-foot-4 wing, arguably the best player in the city in her class, is already averaging 19 points and eight rebounds in Public School Athletic League Class AA play, and she has her eyes on earning her Associates Degree before graduating from the Crown Heights school.
The pressure to perform and to live up to the expectations around her does not faze her. It’s just more motivation, since she is her toughest critic.
“The pressure I think I forces me to want to do well,” Patterson said. “At the end of the day, if I don’t feel I do well then I am hard on myself. I get back in the gym. I want to fix my mistakes.”
Her maturity showed in a recent loss to Immaculate Conception (N.J.) at the Francis Lewis Winter Ball on Dec. 21. Patterson struggled in the first half, scoring just three points. She watched good shots off strong moves fail to drop. Patterson didn’t get down. She shook it off and excelled after the break.
“I have to say to myself I’m going to miss shots,” Patterson said. “Not every shot if going to go in. I tried to get it back on defense to keep my team going. I didn’t want them to get their heads down.”
Pick it up she did.
Patterson, also a vocal leader, scored 12 of her 15 points in the second half. She connected on a step-back jumper. Patterson later spun into the lane and dropped in a floater. They are moves not usually seen from someone at her age and size. Patterson said her father Lamont made sure she learned how to handle the ball and shoot. She did not get buried in the post despite being 5-foot-10 in sixth and seventh grade.
“She can dribble,” Medgar Evers senior point guard Kailyn Richburg said. “She can breakdown a defense. She can get into the paint and grab rebounds. That’s the great part. She is an all-around player.”
Patterson’s skills have already drawn interest from colleges like St. John’s, Maryland, Michigan, Ohio State, Louisville, Wagner, Kentucky, and Seton Hall among others. She is only going to get better as she works to improve her ball handling.
“There is room for growth,” said Medgar Evers coach Janice Carter. “She is only a freshman, but you see the potential in her.”
Her teammates appreciate both the skills and the attitude she came in with, but Patterson’s good nature still has her learning when to assert herself on the court. She still needs to develop the killer instinct that all great players have.
The good thing her he is she that gets to grow alongside a team that has just one senior on the roster and starts another freshman, Kayla Hall. Medgar Evers is off to just a 1–6 start in league play in Carter and fellow coaches Mike Toro and Eric Davis’ first year at the helm.
“We all have to grow together,” Patterson said. “We are all a team and we are going to get better as a team.”
Patterson is already ahead of the game in a lot of areas.
©2013 Community News Group
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