From fighting to start in high school, to three stops in college, finally Patricia Bright continues to prove that she has a place in the basketball world.

Even if it is about 5,600 miles away from Ahwatukee.

Bright recently finished her first season as professional player in Malta for the Luxol Basketball Club.

She is the only American player on her team, Caffee’ Moak, but she said the experience has been worthwhile.

“I love it because it took me outside of my comfort zone,” she said. “I’ve seen things I never would have. I even tried rabbit.”

The cultural experience for the 2009 Desert Vista graduate was just as important as the professional playing experience. She said it has given her a new perspective and she’s glad this is where she landed.

“My route was different, but I needed to find out for myself what level I wanted to play at,” she said. “Coming out of high school, I had no idea. I never thought basketball would take me this far.

“Everyone would tell me I was really good, but I was just out there for fun.”

The 6-foot-4 Bright and her team finished the season with an 8-2 record, and she is back in the States during the offseason to visit with family. But that hasn’t stopped her and her teammates from continuing the friendships they forged during the season.

“I talk to my teammates every day,” she said. “We always send pictures of food back and forth because I would tell them some of the food they would have here and they would just be amazed. Places like Krispy Kreme.”

Bright said there were some adjustments she had to make going overseas besides an eight-hour time difference.

“I really didn’t know what to expect or what I was getting into until the plane landed,” Bright said. “I had a lot of free time and I didn’t know how to spend it. All I had to do was work out and practice. It was a little weird not going to school and studying.”

But the starting center said she dedicates most of her time to staying in shape and ensuring she performs at her best.

It paid off as Bright was named the league’s Player of the Month in January and averaged around 21 points and 12 rebounds on the season.

“Over there you’re treated as a professional, not just an athlete,” Bright said. “They know it’s your job and it’s really nice. You go to practice and workout on your own, but they expect you to be on your A-game every game, especially as a starter.”

Bright’s scoring stats are impressive but she made a name for herself blocking shots at Oregon State, where she is third all time in blocked shots, in only two seasons.

She said her success as a Beaver was a result of her time bouncing around.

“It was just about being ready for the next level. I knew what my potential was. I just had to find out how I was going to reach it,” said Bright, who also played at Midland Community College and Pensacola Junior College.

She has taken advantage of the opportunity many never get to realize and she expects to continue down this path of success.

“I love it,” Bright said. “I think if anyone has this chance they should take it. You get to see the world and play your sport.”

• Will Argeros is a junior at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University. He is interning this semester for the AFN.

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