July 2, 2009
Kiki Patterson is working toward a dream.
There already have been plenty of stops on that road, and there will be plenty more in the next three years.
But the length of that journey isn''t going to affect Patterson.
Instead, it is going to encourage her to work even harder so she accomplish her goal of earning a scholarship to play basketball at a Division I school.
Patterson''s play with Team Memphis Elite, an Amateur Athletic Union team out of Tennessee, is helping her get noticed.
Team Memphis Elite finished second in the 13-and-under state tournament May 8-10 in Memphis. The finish helped the team secure a spot in the AAU 13U Nationals on July 9-15 in King Island, Ohio.
Patterson, a 5-foot-7 left-hander who will be a freshman at Columbus High School in the fall, averages 14 to 16 points a game for Team Memphis Elite, according to her coach, Michelle Mays.
"She is a team player, she is a hard worker, and she is everything I wanted in a player," said Mays, who has coached Patterson for the past three years. "Kiki''s attitude is superb. You couldn''t ask for a better player."
That''s high praise for any player, let alone for one who isn''t even in high school.
But Patterson is poised beyond her years. An "A-B" student in the classroom, she is versatile enough to play any position and can shoot and rebound with the best.
Gwendolyn Griffin, who coached the Columbus High School ninth-grade girls basketball team, agreed with Mays'' assessment. She said Patterson averaged more than 30 points per game.
"She is very athletic. I gave her the nickname ''Miss Athletic''," Griffin said. "She works hard on offense and defense. She gives you all she has when she steps on the floor."
Griffin said Patterson likely will compete for playing time as a member of the Columbus High varsity girls basketball season.
"She is still going to be a special player," Griffin said. "She is just a presence on the court. She is still making good decisions on offense and still playing aggressive defense. I think she will transition to it just fine."
Patterson admits all of the traveling has been educational and tiresome. She believes she is blessed to have the opportunity to have an opportunity to travel to different states to showcase her basketball abilities.
Now in her third season with Team Memphis, Patterson said she enjoys facing some of the top competition in the region.
"I think I have matured a lot," Patterson said. "At first I was just playing the game. Now I am thinking the game, like what moves to use on this defender and where to go."
Patterson used to play with an AAU team out of New Orleans, Domino''s. She said she two-and-a-half hour drive her parents have to make to Memphis is nothing compared to the six-plus hour trip to Louisiana.
Patterson traveled earlier this month to a camp at Florida State and to a camp at the University of Louisville in Kentucky (with Team Memphis Elite).
Kiki''s father, Mark, said Louisville made an impression on him and his daughter, but that there still is a long list of schools -- including Mississippi State, Ole Miss, and Southern Miss -- she is considering.
Patterson said traveling will remain in her future as she continues to mature as a basketball player and as she narrows her list of colleges and ultimately decides on a course of study.
When that time comes, there likely will be a host of schools that will be happy to make the final cut.
"It is shocking because I am a freshman now and I was just a baby not too long ago," said Patterson, who has a Web site so people can keep track of her exploits." It doesn''t seem like it is that far away because in the blink of an eye I am going to be a senior. That''s why I am going to work hard and keep my grades extremely high.
"My time in the gym is paying off now. At night, I am working on my handle and my shot, but I am not stopping here. I still have to go some more to get that scholarship."
Adam Minichino is the Sports Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.
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