As Blue Eye High School senior Kohnnar Patton was debating the decision on where to take her basketball talents to the next level, she could have gotten advice from many different sources.
Patton had narrowed her final two choices to Evangel University and College of the Ozarks.
She has played AAU ball for the last three years with coach Allen Wilson and the Missouri Valley Magic. Wilson is an assistant coach at Evangel.
The Lady Crusaders already have signed Blue Eye graduates Taylor Arnold and Ayshia Bettlach, who with Patton helped Blue Eye win back-to-back district titles the last two seasons.
Patton also is well-acquainted with the C of O program and players in the Lady Bobcats’ program, from the AAU circuit. But she didn’t ask for – or get – much “help” in the recruiting process from outside sources.
“No one really pushed me,” Patton said during a telephone interview earlier this week. “I wasn’t going to base my decision on what others told me I should do.”
It was a tough decision, Patton said, but it ended with her committing to play for coach Megan Leuzinger and the Lady Crusaders.
“It was really hard, but I just prayed about it and felt like my heart was saying, ‘Evangel,’” Patton said. “It definitely was a tough decision.”
It was such a difficult process that she couldn’t even point to the factor that tipped the scales in Evangel’s direction.
“I honestly could not tell you there was any one thing that made the difference,” she said. “Something was just telling me to pick Evangel. I did a pros and cons list for both (Evangel and C of O), and it was very even.”
Evangel will be getting the services of one of Blue Eye’s most decorated girls’ players in recent years.
The 5-foot-6 point guard won Tri-Lakes Player of the Year honors as a sophomore, when she averaged 18.3 points, 5.3 rebounds, 5.8 assists and 5.8 steals per game, as the Lady Bulldogs went 24-6 and reached the Class 2 state quarterfinals.
Her junior season was more of a challenge, as Patton sat out 10 games with a stress fracture in her left leg. She returned for the postseason and helped Blue Eye to a 21-7 record, another district title and appearance in the sectional round.
Patton averaged 17.2 points, 4.8 rebounds and 4.0 assists per game, making 34-of-99 shots from 3-point range, as she was named the MVP of the Southwest Central League.
She will be joining an Evangel program that finished with a 19-11 record in Luezinger’s first season, including 14-10 in the Heart of America Athletic Conference. The Lady Crusaders lost to Clarke College in the quarterfinals of the conference tournament.
Patton can go through her senior year at Blue Eye – where she also played key roles on the school’s district-title volleyball team and state-title track team last year – without the stress of the college recruiting process weighing on her.
“It feels real good – a lot of the pressure came off my shoulders,” Patton said.
“I’m excited to get going with school ball.”
Patton gave Wilson the news at an AAU tournament a couple of weeks back, which was shortly followed by Magic teammate Logan Jones of Strafford committing to Evangel.
“It was a pretty wild time,” Patton said.
Patton and her Magic teammates returned back home earlier this week after winning the championship at AAU nationals in New Orleans.
When she starts her senior season at Blue Eye, she will have a future at the Evangel campus in Springfield to look forward to as she closes out her high school time.
“I’m super-excited,” Patton said. “I feel like it is going to be a huge benefit to get the decision made. So when I’m working on things going forward, I will have a goal to work toward.
“I’m very excited.”
Patton is part of a huge group of additions to the Evangel program since Leuzinger took over before last season. Since Jan. 1, 18 players have committed to the Lady Crusaders. Eleven of those additions have come since the end of last season in early March.
The amount of competition on hand is not intimidating to Patton.
“They just want me to keep working on my game, and I want to have the right mindset going in, knowing that there are opportunities there,” Patton said.
“I just have to keep an open mind.”