HILLSBORO—When you hear the song Sweet Georgia Brown or the names Meadowlark Lemon, Sweet Lou Dunbar, Curly Neil or Geese Ausbie you immediately think of The Harlem Globetrotters, the most well-known basketball team around the world. Now you can add the name “Springs” Patterson to that list.
DeShun Patterson, a native of Minneapolis, Minnesota and former Tabor College basketball player, was noticed by the Globetrotters when he made the semi-finals of the ESPN NCAA Slam Dunk Contest. Standing just 5’9” tall but armed with an incredible 49” vertical, ‘Springs’ is the nickname he was given by the world famous team from Harlem. “They picked it for me. I like it. It’s a really good name for me” said Patterson.
When asked about how this journey began, Patterson replied, “They contacted me. They saw me participate in the dunk contest and contacted me. I went to a couple of workouts on the east coast. After that I got a couple of calls and it all fell together from there.”
Patterson joins several others in this year’s Globetrotter Rookie class. Fellow dunk contest participant Max “Hoops” Pierce and former Trotter great turned head coach Sweet Lou Dunbar’s son are both rookies along with Patterson.
After an October training camp in Atlanta, the games began in Virginia and North Carolina. After a two-week break for Thanksgiving, the Globetrotters headed to Montana. The schedule will only get busier from there.
The Globetrotters put on a great show, but don’t be fooled. It is real basketball. “We pretty much practice every morning before the games and play about everyday. Practices are pretty much like a regular basketball practice. I love it. It is really fun.”
Like any team, everyone on the squad has their role to play. “High energy” is how Patterson described his role. “Everyone has their unique abilities that God has given them and I will use that to my advantage.”
How did a small, Christ-centered college in Hillsboro, Kansas help the Minnesota native prepare for this adventure? “Tabor helped me to see things differently. It humbled me. Meeting different types of people and understanding where they are coming from. Everyone has their own problems. It helped me to just be happy” Patterson said of his Tabor experience.
During his senior season at Tabor, Patterson was named to the KCAC All-Conference Honorable Mention team and helped lead the Bluejays to the Men’s NAIA II National Tournament and an Elite Eight finish. He averaged 12.2 points per game his senior season.
The hectic schedule is just that, hectic, but the new experience is described as “fun, new and exciting.” When asked what the best aspect of the new job is, Patterson replied without hesitation: “Seeing the kids at the games and putting smiles on their faces because I really love kids. I love that. Having fun with my teammates and putting smiles on people’s faces. That makes me really happy.”
The Globetrotters will travel across the United States before heading to Europe in February. “It’s been fun. A new experience. It keeps me pretty busy.”
If you have the opportunity to take in a Harlem Globetrotters game, be sure to look for one of the shortest guys on the floor. He will be wearing number 56 and hanging out above the rim.