FORT WAYNE — Homestead coach Rod Parker knew there was a possibility that famed UConn women’s basketball coach Geno Auriemma would be in Fort Wayne on Tuesday to watch senior Ayanna Patterson against Fishers, but it wasn’t until the morning of the game he received official confirmation.
Informed that her future college coach would be in attendance, Patterson offered an expectedly laid-back response: “She was like, ”OK, we have a game to play,'” Parker said with a grin following the Spartans’ 51-35 win Tuesday morning. “It was no big deal to her.”
Takeaways: Homestead rides hot start, strong defense to win over Fishers
OK to be fair, Auriemma gave Patterson a heads up the night before, but the star recruit’s reaction to the news Tuesday morning was in line with how she’s handled everything else amidst her meteoric rise as one of the nation’s best. She pays little attention to the accolades and her statistics. All she cares about is winning. “That’s what makes her so special,” Parker said.
“Ayanna knows how much Connecticut likes her and we’re excited for her to be out there next year,” he continued. “She just came out (against Fishers), did her thing and was excited we won the basketball game.”
With her college coach watching her in-person for the first time since she committed last March, the nation’s No. 4 prospect (ESPN) poured in a game-high 23 points to lift Homestead to a 51-35 win over Fishers. She was tremendous throughout, but took over in the second quarter, accounting for nine of the Spartans’ 14 points as they pushed their lead to 33-19 at the break.
“It was really great to see him actually out in the crowd,” Patterson said. “They watch my games on TV, but to come all the way down to Fort Wayne, it shows a lot of love and it really means a lot.”
Patterson, who recorded a team-high 17 points in a win over Hamilton Southeastern late Tuesday afternoon, is distinguished immediately by her length and strength — the 6-foot-3 wing is an absolute force on the glass and an intimidating presence in the paint — but it’s her athleticism that really grabs your attention when watching her play.
“She’s just tremendous,” HSE coach Brian Satterfield said, citing Patterson’s ability to use her body and athleticism. “(There’s also) what she does on the defensive end, being able to get out there on the perimeter and guard, using her length — just the athleticism that she has to be able to go inside and out on both ends of the floor. Any time you have that, you have a special player.”
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Tuesday’s doubleheader was the continuation of Patterson’s phenomenal senior campaign.
Widely regarded as the front-runner for Indiana Miss Basketball, she scored 30-plus points in three straight games entering Tuesday’s opener against Fishers. She was particularly brilliant against Bishop Dwenger on Dec. 10, notching a season-high 34 points, nearly throwing down a dunk (y’all seriously need to see this) and surpassing 2015 grad Grace German as the program’s all-time leader in rebounds (818 and counting).
Patterson’s efforts have Homestead on an eight-game win streak, highlighted by a 65-52 triumph over Class 3A power South Bend Washington and Tuesday’s sweep of Fishers and HSE.
“We’ve developed a lot from Noblesville until now,” Patterson said, referencing Homestead’s 69-48 loss to the Millers on Nov. 20. “We really showed our team chemistry today. HSE came back (and took the lead late) but we stayed strong and relied on each other. We have confidence in each other and it really shows on the court.”
As for her visit with Auriemma, Patterson said he joked with her about offensive rebounding and congratulated her on having a good game. “He loved the atmosphere in our gym,” she added. “It was great.”
In case you were wondering, Auriemma jetted into Fort Wayne for Patterson’s game, then flew out to Massachusetts immediately afterwards to watch another 2022 commit compete.
Follow Brian Haenchen on Twitter at @Brian_Haenchen.
This article originally appeared on Indianapolis Star: UConn coach watches Ayanna Patterson: ‘It shows a lot of love’