HUNTINGTON — Huntington High’s Patrick Patterson was humbled by finishing third in the 2005 Bill Evans Player of the Year voting as a sophomore, and he used that honor to motivate himself to earn West Virginia’s top boys’ basketball honor this season.

Patterson became the first junior since DuPont’s Randy Moss to win the Bill Evans Award, voted on by the West Virginia Sports Writers Association, and did so by a four-point margin over runner-up Josh Daniel of South Charleston. Moss, the Oakland Raiders wide receiver, shared the award with Woodrow Wilson’s Anthony Scruggs in 1994 and won the award over DuPont teammate and current Miami Heat point guard Jason Williams in 1995.

“At the end of last year when I found out I got third I set one of my main goals to win the award this year,” said Patterson, a 6-foot-8 center being recruited by at least nine different Division I schools. “I wasn’t even expecting that last year and was cool about it because there was Cookie Miller and Adam Fletcher who were great players and averaged like 25 points per game.”

Capital’s Josh “Cookie” Miller won the award last year and St. Albans center Adam Fletcher was the runner-up. Both were seniors, and Miller is now playing at Harmony Community prep school in Cincinnati and Fletcher is at Miami of Ohio.

Patterson took 16 first-place votes and eight second-place votes but was left off seven ballots, while Daniel got 10 first-place votes and 14 second-place votes and was left off of five ballots. Three points are awarded for each first-place vote, two points for a second-place vote and one point for third place.

George Washington’s Chris Long finished a distant third by 23 additional points in the balloting.

Daniel and Patterson were AAU teammates for the East Coast Scholar Athletes out of Roanoke, Va.

“I figured Josh Daniel or Chris Long would have got it,” Patterson said. “I’m happy and proud. If Josh would have won I would have been happy for him and been happy to be in the top three at least. I would have called him up and congratulated him. It’s an honor and a privilege. They are great players.”

Patterson averaged 14.5 points, 11 rebounds and 4.4 blocks per game this season. He averaged 12.5 points, 11.3 rebounds and 4.6 blocks as a sophomore. But Patterson’s value was not measured by his individual statistics, according to his teammates and coaches.

“As far as somebody being valuable to his team, and if they go by that to pick the Player of the Year, he’s the most valuable player in the state,” said Huntington coach Lloyd McGuffin. “He’s very unassuming and very appreciative and very deserving.”

McGuffin said he didn’t want to speak for other coaches, but he said he couldn’t see any situation where any coach in West Virginia wouldn’t rather have Patterson.

Patterson is widely considered the state’s top basketball prospect and is considering Connecticut, Florida, Kentucky, Tennessee, Virginia, Virginia Tech, Wake Forest and West Virginia.

Patterson said Florida, Kentucky, Marshall, Virginia, Virginia Tech, Wake Forest and West Virginia have all officially offered scholarships. Thirteen of the last 17 Evans winners the last 16 years have played Division I college basketball and Moss chose football at Marshall University.

Patterson scored 20 points, grabbed 23 rebounds and blocked six shots in last year’s Class AAA championship game victory against Woodrow Wilson to catapult his name to the top of the Player of the Year candidacy list for this season. The Highlanders (22-2) begin their quest for a second consecutive AAA title on Wednesday as the top seed.

Patterson said his stats may have paled in comparison to Daniel’s 30 points per game average but he didn’t have to play all four quarters this season with Huntington winning by a healthy margin in most games.

“Maybe (the voters) see me as one of the best players to come out of West Virginia and if I played more selfish that I could be averaging per game like what I did in the state championship game last year,” he said. “When I play I don’t look at myself points-wise. It doesn’t matter how much I score because I really don’t concentrate on that, I just concentrate on winning the game. I’m really not a selfish player and I’m more of a team player and look to pass first instead of score.”

Huntington senior guard Heath Thomas echoed his most valuable teammate.

“I’ve said it time and time again, but he dominates the game in so many ways,” Thomas said. “He can rebound, block shots, play defense and there are so many good things he brings to the table that we need. He’s the most valuable and dominant player in the state, hands down.

“We have so many players on this team that can score points that Pat doesn’t feel he needs to score. He doesn’t care about scoring points at all.”

Patterson said he was afraid that missing two games early in the season with a sprained ankle and two more at the end of the season as a suspension for receiving two technical fouls in the Mountain State Athletic Conference title game would be detrimental to his winning the award. But the technical fouls were his first for unsportsmanlike conduct and out of character, his teammates and coaches said.

“I figured the games I didn’t play would cost me,” Patterson said. “My attitude and what I did might have people judge me, but that’s not me. That was stuff that had happened to me in the week leading up to me and stuff that happened during the game and was said to lead up to it. It just got to my head and that usually doesn’t happen.”

Daniel also missed the last two regular season games for South Charleston after suffering a collapsed lung. He played in a sectional loss against George Washington.

With one season goal in his back pocket, Patterson is looking forward to accomplishing his foremost team goal, another state title.

Then, maybe, he can turn his attention to making history.

Moss and Clarksburg Washington Irving’s Jeff Schneider (1977 and 1978) are the only two-time winners in the Bill Evans Award’s 37-year history. Previous winners also include former NBA players Bimbo Coles (Greenbrier East) in 1985 and Tamar Slay (Beckley) in 1998. Patterson is the first Huntington product to win the award.

For now he’s again humbled by the recognition.

“I can’t describe it,” Patterson said of the elite class he’s joined. “It’s amazing and maybe I can come back and win it again. That will be one of my main goals next year already.”

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