Big size, bigger personality
Published: Wednesday, February 13, 2013
Updated: Wednesday, February 13, 2013 00:02
Patricia Bright of the Oregon State’s women’s basketball team has played her way to a prestigious reputation, but you wouldn’t guess it from talking to her.
The senior post player had a monstrous junior season in 2011-12. She dominated the paint defensively and registered the second-highest block total in Pac-12 history. She swatted 115 shots that season, and averaged a whopping 3.5 per game.
For her efforts, Bright was named a Pac-12 All-Defense and All-Pac-12 honorable mention by the coaches and media. She was taken by surprise and stayed humble when this was revealed to her last year.
“I don’t think anything of national [recognition] or nothing,” Bright said. “I feel like it’s just politics. I’m not really worried about national titles, blocked shots, Pac-12, this and that.”
Politics or not, Bright has earned the interest of the WNBA.
Her numbers this season may not be as impressive as they were a year ago, but her 2.1 blocks per game during Pac-12 play is still the highest rate in the league, and she is playing well enough to garner some national attention.
Draftsite.com has her ranked as the No. 39 prospect in her draft class. Thirty-six names will be called on draft night in April.
“I didn’t even know that,” Bright said. “That’s crazy. You shocked me.”
However, if it came down to it, Bright likely wouldn’t play in the WNBA at all.
“Overseas is a possibility I want to start thinking about,” she said. “The WNBA is just — I don’t think it’s for me.”
The anthropology major isn’t looking to chase stardom.
Instead, she is pursuing a fulfilling career, which she believes could be found in playing basketball professionally overseas. If she were to do this, she would follow the footsteps of former OSU basketball players El Sara Greer and Earlysia Marchbanks. Both of them have found success playing in Europe.
“I feel like if I could travel the world and play basketball, it’s the best of both worlds,” Bright said. “If I go overseas, I have the chance to actually view a different culture and play basketball. It’s win-win. I’ll go anywhere I can play basketball and get a culture shock.”
There is no doubt Bright could handle a change of scenery. She has already spent significant stretches of time in different cities in the United States. She grew up in Phoenix, Ariz. When she graduated high school, Bright chose to play ball at Midland College in Texas.
“When I got there, I was like, ‘Whoa, this is the middle of nowhere,’” she said. “It was a great school, but not the school for me.”
After Midland College, she transferred again. This time it was Pensacola College in Florida.
“Better year, better program, better environment for me,” she said.
It took a trip to the NJCAA Tournament with Pensacola before Bright met with Oregon State head coach Scott Rueck, who recruited her to Oregon State.
At the tournament, Bright led Pensacola to a third-place finish. They lost to a North Idaho team spearheaded by future teammate ShaKiana Edwards-Teasley.
“I came [to OSU] on my visit, looked at the feel and I just knew they cared,” Bright said. “I needed a program that would work with people, who would care — just full-on effort. And I felt that Oregon State brought that.”
The women’s basketball program at OSU is tightly knit. Bright is a big reason for that; it’s unanimous who the funniest player on the team is.
“The funniest person on our team is probably Patricia Bright,” said freshman forward Samantha Siegner. “She’s just always doing something kind of crazy, and she always has something to say.”
Even in the face of a string of six consecutive losses, an ankle injury, and another string of losses, Bright remains positive. She even lost her starting position since the beginning of the year.
Instead of her and Edwards-Teasley holding down the frontcourt, it’s freshman forward Deven Hunter starting alongside Edwards-Teasley.
There is no animosity between the senior and the freshman, though.
“Me and Patricia have a good relationship,” Hunter said, “We’re teammates, we talk, we laugh. In the locker room we’re friends, and off the court we’re friends.”
This season has certainly been the most challenging of Bright’s collegiate career. After a remarkable 11-win turnaround a year ago, the Beavers are struggling. OSU is currently 9-15 and sitting at No. 11 in the Pac-12.
That hasn’t hindered Bright’s composure.
“There are times when you could feel down on yourself,” Bright said. “But you’ve got to know it’s just basketball. You’ve just got to know that the effort that you bring is going to be rewarded in some way. I don’t think there are times when I’m down, but there are times that I’m doubtful, which I think is something I still need to work on.”
Bright’s basketball career at Oregon State will be over in a matter of weeks, as it does not look like the team has a postseason tournament to look forward to.
Perhaps it is not the most fitting final season for such a dominant defensive force, but Bright’s records will stand long after she has moved on and her personality will certainly not be forgotten.
Mitch Mahoney, sports reporter