The Pest has certainly come a long way.
That’s what Brady Patterson’s father and grandfather used to playfully call him, a nod to his Velcro, defensive-minded ways, years before that scale tilted in the other direction.
“His arms,” said David Patterson, Brady’s father, “were just flying all over the place.”
In one basketball game as a kid, Brady had 11 steals.
And so The Pest was born.
In a manner of speaking, he never left.
Patterson victimized defenses for most of the last two seasons of his prep career at Rio Rancho High School – both as a point guard and as a wide receiver.
He was a first-team all-state selection in basketball and football, and today, Patterson is the Journal’s choice for 2014-15 Male Athlete of the Year.
“I don’t think you can limit a kid like Brady,” Rio Rancho football coach David Howes said. “He can do whatever he wants.”
Patterson has signed to play basketball for Eastern New Mexico. Truth be told, basketball always has been his preference.
He surely was unrefined as a kid, but he was passionate. The passion always was there.
So was the ability.
“I think I’ve always loved basketball a little bit more,” said Patterson. “But the main thing is I’d be able to play longer and not take as much of a beating on my body.”
He was a four-year letterman for the basketball team and spent three varsity seasons as a starting receiver for the Rams.
The 6-foot-1, 160-pound Patterson is the second-oldest of four brothers and almost relentlessly even-keeled – to the untrained eye, anyway.
“You’ll never see what really drives him,” his father said. “You have to have that edge, and he has that, but it just burns inside him.”
Patterson had a profound impact in both sports as a senior.
Last fall, he hauled in 75 passes for over 1,300 yards with 16 touchdowns in Rio Rancho’s state championship season. David Patterson said that Northern Arizona regarded Brady as the best wide receiver they’d scouted in this area.
“One of the best I’ve ever had,” Howes said. “He held the highest standard for himself. He wasn’t ever quite satisfied with his performance and always wanted more.”
In the winter, Patterson led the Rams into the state semifinals at the Pit.
“The first thing that comes to mind about Brady is that he’s a very humble person,” Rio Rancho boys basketball coach Wally Salata said. “He never gets too high, never gets too low, and I never saw him get uptight. He just went out and played.”
Probably the only person who could discern Patterson’s mood changes were those in his own family.
“People don’t realize how intense he is,” David Patterson said. “He’s one of those rare athletes that can keep it under wraps. But you can tell right away when he’s upset.”
“We’re his parents,” he said.
Howes offered this observation:
“Literally,” Howes said, laughing, “the most angry I’ve ever seen him is clapping his hands together in a rough manner.”
Patterson’s mother and father both were athletes at Eastern, and his older brother Austin is a wide receiver with the Greyhounds.
Brady, a favorite target of quarterback Easton Bruere, probably could have gone the football route if his heart weren’t tethered to basketball.
“He probably would be just as successful,” Salata said.
Patterson’s football numbers are, arguably, more gaudy than his basketball numbers, though this is due in large part to Rio Rancho’s propensity to throw.
“His success came out of intelligence and his relationship with Easton,” Howes said. “He made our job very, very easy.”
Patterson wasn’t even sure he’d play football last season, mostly because he feared injury would derail his basketball plans.
Rio Rancho evolved into a legitimate state championship contender in basketball, largely because of Patterson.
While his scoring average dipped slightly – he averaged 22.9 points a game as a junior, 21.2 last season – his assist total during that same time frame rose from 129 to 166.
“I wasn’t trying to do that. It just sort of happened,” Patterson said. “I didn’t want to carry the burden of scoring, so that was OK with me.”
In tracking Rio Rancho’s route to the state semifinals, this statistic was one of the most important to the Rams. Of course, Patterson’s versatility – in addition to that nearly imperceptible internal engine – was the thing that most defined him.
Patterson had a 3-point shot, a midrange jumper, and his court IQ allowed him to get into the lane and to the iron with relative impunity.
“He’s a tough person to coach (against),” Salata said. “Because, what do you stop?”
Patterson is quick to acknowledge that growing up in a family full of athletes, including his dad, helped to nurture his talent.
“It’s crazy,” he said. “It’s so competitive. Pretty much everything we do is competitive. My brothers, my parents . … It was so competitive, it just gets ingrained into you. Honestly, that was one of the biggest things that benefited me.”
It’s a contrast, Patterson said, to his reserved approach to life and to sports, and the serene disposition he displays when in uniform.
“I’ve grown up a shy kid,” he said, “and I think that contributed – not to how I played, but how I acted. (My dad) taught us that you can’t change the play, you just let your play do the talking. That’s all I’ve been trying to do ever since I’ve been playing sports.”