Joshua Patton is halfway around the world, taking the first steps toward realizing his NBA dream.
The former Sierra High standout has signed his first professional contract with BIPA Odessa in Ukraine where he'll expand his culinary tastes, brave the cold and acclimate himself to different styles of basketball. Patton arrived in the middle of last week and plans to stay until the end of the Ukrainian Higher League season.
“I’m mostly just looking forward to playing in games again, and I want to just be able to help this team win the remaining games in the season and do well in playoffs,” Patton said. “While I’m out here I’m also trying to try different Ukrainian dishes and explore a little, but it’s pretty cold right now. It’s tough for a native Californian like myself to deal with the snow.”
He'll debut with BIPA Odessa with games on Saturday and Sunday and it can't come soon enough. That's because his last game took place nearly a year ago. Patton was on the bus in Boise, Idaho with the rest of the Sacramento State team, mentally preparing to face top-seeded Eastern Washington in the second round of the Big Sky Conference tournament. The game and the rest of the tournament were canceled by conference officials because of the coronavirus pandemic.
That was back on March 12. Sac State's most prolific big in program history never got a proper sendoff on the court,but left with his name all over the record book and with a diploma.
The 6-foot-8, 230-pound Patton is the Hornets' all-time leader in blocked shots with 199, and his 1,226 career points are the most scored by a center. Sac State enjoyed one of its best seasons in Division I with a 16-14 record. Patton averaged 12.8 points, 5.7 rebounds and 1.9 blocks, earning a spot on the All-Big Sky third team. He graduated last spring with a degree in geography and a concentration in metropolitan area planning.
“After graduating from Sac State, I pretty much just spent my whole summer working out in Sacramento with my trainer and with other pro guys,” Patton said. “I was hoping to get a job in Europe earlier, but with COVID and being a rookie it was tough to get a good opportunity, so I had to just listen to my agent on a lot of stuff and then do my part which was improving my overall game.”
He finally caught the eye of a second-tier club out of Ukraine. BIPA Odessa is currently 9-9 with eight games remaining.
“Their coach saw some footage of me and then got in touch with my agent and got more film and then they offered a contract,” Patton said. “My agent and I thought it was a good opportunity since I’d just have to be out here in the Ukraine until the beginning of May when the league ends.”
The grind doesn't stop there, however.
“When I get back to the States, I'll just be getting back to work and trying to get on an NBA Summer League team out in Vegas,” Patton said. “And if that happens, my options both in the G-League and overseas will open up.”