INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – Ron Patterson stands in the corner of a gym, IUPUI practice a few minutes away, finishing up a shoot around with a series of three pointers. Our camera comes over for a closer look and a few teammates standing close by start to make a few comments, mixed in with laughter.
“It’s not funny,” Patterson forces through a chuckle and smile of his own.
The scene hints at small part of the relationship between the former Broad Ripple High standout and his teammates: As a 25-year old senior, Patterson may have to absorb a joke or two about his age.
“There’s a couple freshman on our team, they like to joke a lot,” he says. “It definitely takes me back.”
Patterson appears more than willing to play along, at least a little.
“I don’t feel old,” he adds. “Only when we have hard practices and it takes a toll on my body.”
“He jokes and laughs ‘My knees hurt. My legs hurt,’ chimes in head coach Jason Gardner. “I’m like, ‘No, you don’t understand until you get (to) my age.'”
Central Indiana first got to know Patterson playing in high school at Broad Ripple, becoming the Rockets’ all-time leading scorer. He left with a scholarship to Indiana University, but never suited up for the Hoosiers. After a year of prep school instead, Patterson spent two years at Syracuse. Then, the NCAA hit Jim Boeheim’s program with several penalties, and Patterson returned to the Circle City, joining IUPUI, his fifth school in four years.
“This means a lot,” said Patterson of playing in his hometown. “It’s where I’m from. Great players came from here. I’m glad I came home. Trying to go out with a bang.”
After seemingly a lifetime of college basketball experience crammed into six years, Patterson can look back and see how all of it has shaped him today.
“I definitely grew up,” nodded Patterson. “I didn’t know what to expect coming in playing college.”
“You’ve seen how he interacts with the guys, off the court (and) on the court,” added Gardner. “You can just tell he’s grown up.
“When you have older guys that have that leadership, that quality, you can’t beat that.”
“I gotta keep going,” stressed Patterson. “Just keep putting all the work in, even though it’s coming to an end.”