DeShun Patterson's life is one that a number of basketball players dream about. Patterson, who played for Jim Russell and the Central Lakes College men's basketball
team from 2014 - 2016, is finishing up his rookie season as a member of the Harlem
Nicknamed "Springs" on the Globetrotters roster, Patterson played in Minneapolis earlier this season where Russell saw him play.
"Deshun was a very outgoing personality who had respect toward people and that
attracts people to him," Russell said. "He also works great with kids with his
athletic ability, but he would listen and spend time with them.
"He has all the ability to be a very good player. He just needed a chance to grow. He
did that here and at Tabor College. He has great character with a lot of heart for the
game and toward people."
Patterson shot 49 percent from the field and 42 percent from 3-point range in his
sophomore season and recorded 67 assists while turning the ball over just 27 times. The Raiders made the state tournament in each of his seasons finishing 26-2 overall in
Northern Division play.
"There are plenty of things that I can take away from playing for coach Russell at CLC,
but the things I use in my life today and career is most importantly to continue to have
great character, be a leader, learn from others and work hard," Patterson said. "I
couldn't thank him enough. He was a coach that I could talk to about anything at any
given time. He helped me turn my life around and was there for me when I was going
through things in life and didn't know what to do. He was a great coach, mentor and
he's been family to me. CLC was like my home."
Patterson looked to play more basketball after CLC and landed at Tabor College in Kansas.
"I found out they were recruiting me after our season was over," Patterson said. "I felt it took forever deciding where I wanted to go after CLC. A teammate and I ended up going on a couple visits in Kansas and Tabor was one of them. On the visit, I was able to go through some drills and scrimmage a little bit then and the coach and I sat and talked which was great. A few weeks later I decided that Tabor was the best fit for me."
Patterson performed some spectacular dunks in game action while at CLC and that
translated to his game at Tabor where he developed his game more. At the end of the two years it resulted in an invitation to the NCAA dunk contest, held on Final Four weekend.
"The ESPN NCAA dunk contest was something I'll never forget," Patterson said. "It was an experience of a lifetime. If I could do it all over again I would. The atmosphere there was unexplainable.. A friend of mine named Chuck, who I met when I was still at CLC, who owns team Flight Brothers helped me get into the dunk contest. I couldn't thank him enough for helping me get in there. He's a dunk wizard. But during the contest I wasn't thinking it was going to bring more opportunities. I was just trying to soak the experience in and enjoy it to the fullest. Hands down one of the greatest experiences of my life."
With his college career at an end, Patterson was surprised with the career opportunity
that was presented to him. The Harlem Globetrotters started looking at him during his
time at Tabor. Like a lot of other kids who grow up loving basketball, Patterson
marveled at what the Globetrotters could do.
"Yeah, I can't quite remember how old I was when I went to a game, but I remember just
being excited about going to a basketball game," he said. "As a kid I thought the dunks and ball handling were amazing to see and how fast paced it was.
"The process started with them calling my coach at Tabor and they asked me to give
them a call back and of course I did. I was shocked at first. I didn't believe it. But I ended up talking to them and they flew me out for a workout and they liked what they saw and the rest took care of itself. It has been a great season and experience for me. I love it."
Patterson said there is a lot of work and preparation to get the skills and plays to look smooth during a game.
"I'm not sure if it would surprise people but the practicing and preparation every day is a lot but this is what we do and it's amazing," he said. "I would say it's somewhat natural when playing basketball. I love the kids and fans and putting smiles on their faces is a great feeling. My teammates that have been there longer than me have definitely helped me in their own ways and they just tell me to be myself."
Patterson his road to Harlem was benefited by a stop in Brainerd.
"For sure the dunks stood out a lot and yeah my two years there we were very successful," He said. "My role was a captain of the team and leader, someone who brought energy and maturity and did my best to make sure we were all on the same page as a team. I thank coach Russell for giving me that responsibility and believing in
me to do so.
"There are many memories that I could point out, but the one memory I cherish the most is how we all became an actual family. Coach Russell always preached that we have to look out for each other on and off the court and that's what we did. We always helped pick each other up and had fun throughout our journey."