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Going dancing: Former Bridgeport standout Patterson makes history

By Reece Waddell | Published Wednesday, March 20, 2019
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Rising up

RISING UP – Prairie View A&M junior and former Bridgeport standout Devonte Patterson elevates for a dunk. Patterson and the Panthers won the Southwestern Atlantic Conference championship last Saturday, earning him the chance to become the first person in Bridgeport history to play in the NCAA tournament. Patterson averaged 17 points in the semifinal and final of the SWAC Tournament. Photo courtesy of Prairie View A&M Athletics

Alan Green has a simple way of describing former Bridgeport standout Devonte Patterson, who helped lead the Bulls to their only championship in 2015.

“The thing I think I and everyone in Bridgeport will remember about Devonte is he was always a big-time player,” said Green, who coached Bridgeport during its state title run. “He made big shots his entire career. However bright the lights were, he would rise up and match that.”

Like at Bridgeport four years ago, Patterson has made history again at Prairie View A&M.

By taking down Texas Southern in the Southwestern Athletic Conference championship last Saturday, Patterson earned the chance to become the first Bridgeport Bull to play in a NCAA tournament game. Prairie View met Fairleigh Dickinson Tuesday night in a play-in game.

The winner will be the No. 16 seed in the west bracket and square off with No. 1 Gonzaga Thursday night in Salt Lake City.

“This position I’m at right now is something I have always dreamed of being in,” Patterson said. “It means a lot to me. Not only is Bridgeport a small town, but I have a lot of supporters back in Bridgeport. I just want to do it for Bridgeport, because Bridgeport always supported me through good and bad.”

In the SWAC semifinal against Grambling, Patterson led all scorers with 24 points and pulled down eight rebounds. In the final against Texas Southern, Patterson tallied 10 points and six rebounds.

It came as no shock to Green that Patterson, a junior, is leaving his mark on yet another program.

“To not only play in the NCAA tournament, but his semifinal game, he was an integral part of that team making it down there,” Green said. “It’s been four years since we [won the state title], but watching him was the same thing we got to see here. It doesn’t surprise me that he is performing at that level because we were lucky enough to see it earlier in high school.”

During Bridgeport’s championship push, Patterson averaged 23.6 points during the playoffs. In the 4A final against Sterling, the then-high school junior recorded a 29-point, 15-rebound double-double.

His efforts earned him a spot on the 4A state tournament team.

“I feel lucky to be a part of the ride and lucky to be a part of him,” Green said. “It’s not every year coaches at this level coach that talent. I’m proud for him for where he’s gotten.”

The road to the NCAA tournament was not an easy one for Patterson and the Panthers.

Prairie View A&M started the season 1-11. Since then, the Panthers have won 21 of their last 22 games and are riding an 11-game winning streak.

“At the beginning of the year, it wasn’t looking bright,” Patterson said. “But once we got to our conference we were just knocking teams down one by one and started shining bright.”

If Prairie View wins Tuesday night, they will be faced with a gargantuan task in Gonzaga. The Bulldogs are 30-3 and beat Duke earlier this year.

Only once in the NCAA tournament has a 16-seed beaten a 1-seed. That happened last year when the University of Maryland, Baltimore County stunned Virginia.

Patterson is not concerned with the odds.

“I wouldn’t call us underdogs,” Patterson said. “People just don’t know about us. We’re going to knock off Gonzaga, too, and we’re going to continue to knock off teams.”

Back home, Green said he knows where he and many other Bulls fans will be Tuesday night – glued to their televisions watching Patterson on the national stage.

“Me and the rest of Bridgeport will be watching,” Green said. “The memories of the ride we got to be a part of – I think he’ll always have fans here because of that.”

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