on Pat Barrett

Pat Barrett has been on both ends of the winning and losing spectrum and as he reflected on a life in basketball over breakfast on a Friday morning in Orange County, it was interesting to watch the connection that he made between the incredibly polarizing experiences in his basketball life.

Barrett’s professional career peaked as fodder for the Harlem Globe Trotters as a member of the Washington Generals. Night after night Barrett and his teammates would go out and hope just to keep the games reasonably close outside of the choreographed moments in which Meadowlark Lemon and his roundball wizards would perform their patented stunts.

Night after night the losses mounted, but Barrett wasn’t blinded by the amazing opportunity basketball had afforded him. He was seeing the world, traveling with the Trotters and getting paid to play basketball. It’s safe to say that at some point the thought of making this his life’s work crept into his mind.

In 1979, the team that would become know as Southern California All-Stars was born but it wasn’t until 1989 when Pat returned to run what at that point was a sixth grade team at the behest of his friend Stan Castleton that the dynasty was really born and the days of Pat Barrett being on the losing end of the game was all but over.

That ’89 team went to Salt Lake City, Utah and won the 12U national championships behind youngsters Jason Hart and Schea Cotton. That squad won ten games over the course of six days to win its championship. After that, SCA added a team a year as Barrett worked as a one-man army, coaching, organizing, fundraising, driving, and at times even hosting the players on his team.

Tyson Chandler has big dreams, and big talent, but not even his talent could reach from deep in San Bernardino where he was living with his mother and deliver him the opportunity to make something really special of his basketball career and his life. Pat Barrett was driving from his home in Garden Grove to San Bernardino to pick up Tyson and then drive him to Long Beach for practices.

The grind was significant but Barrett felt Chandler was worth it until it was time for Tyson to go to high school and he and his mother agreed that Tyson would live with Barrett. Pat opened his home to Tyson so he could go to Compton Domingues High School and the rest is history.

Barrett’s Southern California All-Star squads are routinely considered among the country’s best, and his 2006 team was voted the greatest AAU team of all time by no less than CBS Sports and Five-Star Basketball Magazine. That squad featured Brandon Jennings, Kevin Love, Daniel Hackett, Renardo Sydney, Malik Story and Taylor King.

As heralded as that group is, Barrett says his ’86 team, which featured Dwayne Schintzius, Trevor Wilson, Sean Higgens, Stevie Thompson, and Dwayne Bryant as starters and has no less than future All Time Pac-12 leading scorer Don Maclean, Chris Mills and Darrick Martin coming off the bench, was his finest. Eight players from that team went on to play professionally in the NBA.

Regardless of any individual machine, there is no mistaking the dynasty Barrett erected. SCA has won ten national championships and put 53 players on a path that ended in the NBA. His 2001 team included a staggering four McDonalds’s All-Americans (Chandler, Cedric Bozeman, Josh Childress, and Jamal Sampson). He’s had over 500 players earn college scholarships to play basketball.

As the end of the day, Pat Barrett is a man who gave himself to the game, and ultimately found his golden opportunity by helping to make the dreams of generations of ballplayers come true. Credit him as one of the all-time “assists” leaders in the game of life, and as a man started his professional career losing night after night and now sits decades later presiding over one of the winningest programs at any level in the history of the game.

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