Joshua Patton had a dominant rookie season as a professional basketball player in Ukraine.
The former Sierra High and Sacramento State star led BIPA Odessa to the Ukraine Higher League championship and is now looking forward to a step up in competition after joining with top team out of Portugal.
Patton was named Finals MVP, Center of the Year and made all-league first team. The Ukraine Higher League is the second-tier pro basketball association in the country.
“I think I did well for my first pro season,” the 2015 Sierra graduate said. He averaged 16.7 points, 8.5 rebounds and 2.1 blocks while shooting 59.7 percent from the field.
“It sort of felt like I was back in high school again,” he added. The 6-foot-8 Patton won a Sac-Joaquin Section Division III title at Sierra and went on to become the all-time leading shot blocker at Sac State.
BIPA finished the regular season with an 18-10 record and placed fourth in its group. BIPA upset Group 2 regular-season champ Rivne in the best-of-five finals despite dropping the first two contests.
Patton said it was a challenge adjusting to the cold weather and language barrier as well as the European playing style.
“Pro ball in Europe is a completely different style than what we have out in America,” he said. “They focus on more of a team game whereas in America we like watching and trying to emulate the NBA where it’s a lot of ISO (isolation) ball.”
Patton, 24, is currently adjusting to life in another country along with a higher level of hoops. He arrived in Lisbon last week and is already training with Sporting CP, the reigning champion of Liga Portuguesa de Basquetbol. Sporting went 23-3 last year and qualified for the FIBA Europe Basketball Champions League, which pits the top clubs in the continent.
“Sporting had a scout that watched my game film while looking for players that can block and alter shots, and they ended up contacting my agent and they worked together to get the job done,” Patton said. “This club is a historically-great organization and our coach, Luís Magalhães, is the best coach in Portugal, so that made an impression with me as well.”
Sporting CP begins Champions League play Sept. 13 against Kalev/Cramo, the Latvian-Estonian Basketball League titlist.
The 2014 Sierra grad is in his second season playing in an independent league. In 2019, he played for the Napa Silverados of the Pacific Association of Professional Baseball Clubs.
Conners is making an impact with the Winnipeg Goldeyes (36-35) from the American Association of Professional Baseball North Division. On Wednesday, he provided the finishing blow for a dramatic 11-7 win over Sioux City Explorers.
Winnipeg rallied for six runs in the bottom of the ninth, and it was Conners’ walk-off grand slam that ended the night. The 25-year-old infielder tied career highs with four hits and six RBIs in the contest. For the season, he is hitting for a .233 batting average with a .321 on-base percentage.
A Rawlings National Gold Glove award winner his senior year at Sierra, Conners played four years of college ball at Cal State East Bay.