From small town Kansas to big time college basketball.
But it didn’t happen overnight for Jamie Patrick, the leading scorer for Colorado State’s women’s basketball team.
Coming out of a tiny, 1A high school in Hutchinson, Kansas, Patrick wanted to prove she could play at the Division I level. She had plenty of credentials. In 2012, as a high school senior, she was named the Kansas 1A player of the year. Patrick led her high school squad to a second place finish in the 1A state championship game both in 2012 as a senior and the previous year as a junior.
But the right people never noticed, and the right D-I offer never came.
Instead, Patrick made the same choice as her older sister, Laura, who played two years of basketball in junior college in her hometown at Hutchinson Community College. Laura finished her final two years playing Division II at Emporia State. The eldest Patrick sister, Megan, played NAIA ball at Sterling College.
For Jamie, though, Hutchinson CC was just a stop on the way to a winning Division I program. It was never the final destination.
“My sister who played NAIA was really, really good. She kind of started it off for the sisters,” Jamie said. “(Megan) didn’t get that much recruiting, but she had our name out there. … You always were in those footsteps because they, like I said, put our name out there and set the footsteps.”
Paying homage to her sisters by ending up at a successful Division I program seemed tough, yet Patrick knew she could do it.
“I admit, I’m not the fastest or as quick-footed as some people,” Patrick said. “I grew up with siblings that always worked hard, and I knew I would have to work hard if I wanted to get to the division I wanted to.”
Jamie’s coach at HCC, John Ontjes, believed in Patrick right away, and welcomed her for her freshman season in 2012-13.
“Jamie’s dream was to play Division I,” Ontjes said. “I think Jamie would have been a kid, if she would have come out of a bigger high school, (she) probably would have been looked at the Division I level. She just so happened to grow up in a small town and play for a small school, and had a lot of success in her high school, but it really hurt her recruiting.”
Great players sometimes have small beginnings.
Jamie’s game flourished under Ontjes. In her two years at Hutchinson CC, the team posted a 71-3 record, finished third and second in the NJCAA Tournament, respectively, and she left as Hutchinson’s all-time leading scorer (a mark that has since been broken).
Offers came in from a variety of schools for Jamie. Colorado State, Emporia State (where Laura played), and Kansas State were all on the list. Once she visited CSU, though, she canceled her upcoming tour of Kansas State and turned down all other offers. The direction CSU coach Ryun Williams had his program heading convinced Jamie to become a Ram.
“I knew (CSU) just won conference, so I wanted to go to a good program,” Jamie said. “I think if I went to a losing program I would be so miserable. I came from a winning program, I wanted to come into a winning program and that’s exactly what I looked for.”
Jamie got to cut down the nets at Moby Arena in her first year, as CSU won the regular season Mountain West title once again. She also matched the single-game 3-point record at CSU set by women’s basketball legend Becky Hammon. This year, Jamie is the leading scorer for a team that appears to be a few wins away from a third straight conference title.
Through six games of MW play, Jamie is scoring 15.2 points per game.
“In order to have a good year, your seniors need to have a good years, that’s just how it is,” Williams said. “Jamie is having a good year. That’s a big reason why the Rams are 16-1 right now.”
It’s not just that Jamie has been making shots. Her buckets have come at the right time, like when she stroked the go-ahead 3-pointer with 22 seconds left on the clock to beat Boise State this year. Or when she beat the buzzer with a 3-pointer at the end of the third quarter against BYU en route to a 61-55 Rams win.
That shot against BYU was one she had to make, because it also came against Kalani Purcell, Jamie’s former teammate at Hutchinson CC who had gone on to break her career scoring record at the school.
“It was kind of like a fun, personal vendetta (to play Purcell),” Jamie said. “You know, ‘Oh, you just beat my score, I’m going to beat you.’ She’s such a good player, I respect her for breaking my record. It was fun for me to break it, but I’m glad she broke it.”
Though Patrick’s shooting ability from deep obviously boosts CSU’s offense, strangely enough her stroke is what makes her an effective defender, too.
“She’s guarded the best shooter every single game this year,” Williams said. “Jamie knows how to guard a shooter. … Just guard yourself, Jamie. Shut yourself down. And she knows how to do it.”
Though Patrick wishes she were shooting the 3-pointer at a higher clip than the 35 percent she’s hitting right now, Williams will take it. In fact, he even wants her to let it fly even more.
“When she passes up shots, that’s when I get the angriest with Jamie,” Williams said. “First timeout against Utah State, she probably had five threes launched already, and I said, ‘You should have had 3 or 4 more.’ Who wouldn’t like to hear that? We have great, great trust in Jamie Patrick.”
And she’s earned it in just a season and a half with the Rams. When this year is all said and done, Williams will surely miss Jamie’s scoring and effort on the defensive end. But before it’s over, the Rams hope to win their third straight MW regular season title, and add on a MW Tournament championship this year in Las Vegas.
No matter how her senior year ends, though, Jamie wishes she had more time as a Ram.
“I think it’s hard as a JuCo player, because you have to go from high school to JuCo to transition to another school,” Jamie said. “It’s kind of hard because I wish I had more than just two years here. But it’s been a fun ride and I can’t wait to see how this year ends.”
Collegian Sports Reporter Sam Lounsberry can be reached at email@example.com and on Twitter @samlounz.