Patterson’s camp all about fun
HUNTINGTON — Destani Huffman felt like a lot of NBA players who try to drive the lane on Patrick Patterson.
“I was scared of him,” said Huffman, a junior point guard at Lincoln County High School and attendee Wednesday at Patterson’s basketball camp at Huntington High School. “I was so nervous. My stomach was churning and I thought I was going to cry.”
Huffman worked up the nerve to talk to the 6-foot-9, 230-pound forward/center with the Oklahoma City Thunder. She found the former University of Kentucky star and 2007 Huntington High graduate to be funny and charming. They took a serious picture together, followed by a goofy photo she proudly showed to people after the first day of the three-day camp.
Huffman’s experience was exactly what Patterson hoped.
“It’s all about having fun,” Patterson said of his goal for the 230 campers ages 7 through 16. “We want it to be tough. We want them to work on their craft and develop their skills.”
Patterson headed his camp for the fourth year. The campers paid nothing to attend.
“I want them to realize they can be what they want to be,” said Patterson, a nine-year NBA veteran. “I’m from here just like they are. I went to the same restaurants, the same schools that they do. I was them. I’m a prime example of what you can be coming out of Huntington, whether it’s in sports or something else. I want them to know they can be what they want to be.”
The campers participated in drills and games, with nearly no standing around as the fastpaced instruction took place at a furious pace. That’s how the players liked it.
“It was really fun interacting with all the kids,” said Caleb Romans, an eighth-grader from Lincoln County. “They made it enjoyable.”
And instructional. Romans said he learned jab steps, post moves, how to rip through defenders and drive to the basket. Huffman said she learned “all kinds of stuff” and “loved every part of it.”
Patterson played for the Thunder last season after four years with the Toronto Raptors. He also had played for the Sacramento Kings and Houston Rockets, who selected him in the first round, 14th overall, in the 2010 draft.
Last season, Patterson was slowed by knee surgery and averaged 3.9 points and 2.4 rebounds per game to help the Thunder, led by former Marshall University coach Billy Donovan, go 48-34 and finish fourth in the Western Conference.
“We’re in a good situation,” Patterson said. “We have to build and correct on what we did last year.”