Men's Basketball

Under the hood: Patterson’s childhood moniker ‘Buss’ follows freshman guard to Syracuse


It’s rare for a freshman to have a noteworthy nickname before stepping on a college court, but Ron “Buss” Patterson is an exception. Yet when those close to Patterson were asked about the origins of the moniker, an answer was elusive.

Criss Beyers, founder of Patterson’s former AAU program, Indiana Elite One: “I really don’t know much about ‘Buss.’”

Bob Pryor, Patterson’s coach with Indiana Elite One: “I never really got to the bottom of ‘Buss.’ I know he spells it funny, not like a bus, but I don’t know where it came from.”

When Patterson, now a freshman guard at Syracuse, was asked about the name, he smiled and cleared the air. He said he cried a lot as a baby, so his grandmother started calling him Buster, because that’s how Snoop Dogg identified babies and cowards.

Then he shortened the name to Buss, “just to be different,” he said.

Patterson’s nickname yields more about his basketball persona than its origin indicates. Throughout his ascension to a top-notch Division I program, Patterson has exuded characteristics that have seen “Buss” almost completely replace “Ron.”

“In Indiana, you never hear anyone call him Ron,” said Chris Hawkins, another coach who worked with Patterson with Indiana Elite One. “I hope it catches on in Syracuse and I’m sure it will, because the name really describes him.”

Though Patterson is years removed from crying on his grandmother’s lap, he turned that emotion into competitive drive and carried it throughout his basketball career.

When Patterson walked into the gym for his first practice with Indiana Elite One, Pryor asked some of his players if “that was Ron Patterson.”

They answered, “No, Coach, that’s Buss.”

Right away, Pryor knew he had a very skilled player. As a sophomore in high school, Patterson could shoot the ball, penetrate a man-to-man or zone defense and defend any player on the court. What he didn’t know was that he also had a player with a rare gene.

Patterson would avoid losing at all costs.

“You often say that guys care and that guys will do anything to win, but that doesn’t tell the whole story with Ron,” Pryor said. “He just hated to lose and was upset and took it personally when we did. Made him a dream to coach.”

Pryor said he remembered when the team traveled to a showcase tournament in Wilmington, Del., and lost a close game. Afterward, Patterson was quiet, introspective and stayed seated on the bench while the rest of the team shook the opposition’s hands.

When Pryor asked what was on Patterson’s mind, he told his coach “that he had to be better and that there was absolutely no excuse for losing the game.”

For two weeks, Patterson only left the gym to eat and sleep. Pryor didn’t know it, but he was watching “Buss” in his rawest form. Instead, Pryor created his own story behind the name.

“You know he’s a big guard, and although a lot of the guys would always joke about the different reasons for the name, I made my own,” Pryor said. “Sometimes he looked like a big yellow bus coming down the court or driving into the lane.”

And that was before the peak of Patterson’s physical development. Now the shooting guard is 6 feet 2 inches and 200 pounds, which makes him the heaviest guard in the Orange’s rotation. Patterson is working to crack the guard rotation, and could provide depth behind Tyler Ennis, Trevor Cooney and Michael Gbinije.

Although he hit three 3-pointers in five attempts in Syracuse’s scrimmage against Holy Family on Friday, his wide frame makes him more than a spot-up shooter. Patterson uses his size to protect the ball when dribbling and, most importantly, to complement his quickness on the defensive end.

“I try to move my feet quicker,” Patterson said, “and when taller guys try to body me, I can use my frame to get in front.”

His physical makeup and unquestionable will led both Pryor and Hawkins to call Patterson’s defense his biggest strength on the court. Hawkins said it allows him to “really get up in people.” Pryor added that he’s just “bigger and faster than most guards.”

But whether “Buss” is a big-bodied guard, fierce competitor or whining baby doesn’t matter. The name is a part of Patterson and accentuates his distinctive versatility.

Where does “Buss” come from? Syracuse will most likely figure that out for itself.

“I always said that wherever he went would be a very lucky place,” Hawkins said. “So get ready Syracuse, because Buss is going to do some great things.”


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