PALMER — During the spring of his junior year, Colony High School boys basketball standout Patrick McMahon announced his verbal commitment to play at Division I Montana State. Earlier this week, McMahon made it official.
The Colony High senior signed his National Letter of Intent to attend the Bozeman, Montana, school and play basketball for the Bobcats.
“Super grateful, super excited to play college basketball,” McMahon said. “I’ve always wanted to do that since a young age.”
McMahon found himself feeling at home in Bozeman early in the recruiting process.
“I go to Montana a lot. I have a lot of family down there. I know Montana State has really good academics. Overall it was a good fit,” McMahon said.
McMahon was named the Alaska Association of Basketball Coaches 4A Boys State Player of the Year as a junior after averaging 23 points, 9.6 rebounds, three assists, two steals and two blocks per game. McMahon and the Knights were 17-4 overall, 8-0 in Northern Lights Conference play, and considered by many to be the top 4A team in the state before the season was shut down because of COVID.
During his prep career, McMahon has become known partly for his high-flying highlight reel worth dunks. Colony head coach Tom Berg said the key to McMahon’s overall success has been the big leaps he makes from season to season.
“If you wanted to be really, really good, I’d say every summer you’ve got to take a big jump,” Berg said of his advice to McMahon.
And that’s what he did.
Berg said McMahon had the physicality to play 25 minutes of varsity basketball every night as a freshman. As McMahon progressed through the program, goals were set. During McMahon’s sophomore year, the goal was to score more on offense and decide to be a part of the game plan on defense. Everything started to come together during McMahon’s junior season.
“Last year was just nuts. He really did engage on both ends of the floor. He figured out he could truly just dominate a game on both sides of the floor,” Berg said.
McMahon, a 6-foot-6 standout, is projected as a guard at the Division I level.
“A 6-6 win, that’s a Division I wing,” Berg said.
McMahon has stood out all over the floor for the Knights. Part of that goes back to taking the big leaps, Berg said.
“A big jump for Patty last year, (we asked) can you guard a wing?” Berg said.
McMahon answered the question.
“When I talk about his dominance his junior year, his jump last year was on the defensive end,” Berg said. “He was good offensively as a sophomore. He had the offensive side of things figured out.”
McMahon said he’d looked at other Division I mid-majors, but he found his fit early.
“Montana State was always No. 1,” McMahon said.
McMahon is expected to have the chance to compete for playing time as a freshman. McMahon said he doesn’t expect to redshirt, and said the chance to play early also factored into his final decision.
“I feel like it would be kind of boring to go to a big school and get no playing time,” McMahon said.
McMahon said the sport has been a big part of his life, for basically his entire life.
“My whole family played basketball,” McMahon said.
McMahon said he played in his first real game in youth basketball as a second grader, and remembers going to his older brother’s games and practices. McMahon’s older brother is former Colony High standout Damien Fulp.
“He was a huge influence,” McMahon said.
McMahon said Fulp, who also played at the college level, continues to give him advice.
“He’s been saying prove myself, still fight for minutes,” McMahon said.
Berg said McMahon has a very high ceiling.
“He could really end up being a dominant player in that league,” Berg said of McMahon in the Big Sky Conference.
Part of that is the fact that McMahon possess both physical tools and the intangibles, Berg said.
“He has all of the genetic parts. He has the right temperament,” Berg said.
Berg said sometimes the best players are the most high strung.
But not McMahon, he said.
“He’s one of the most even keel superstars I’ve ever coached. He goes about his business. I’ve never had to talk to him about playing hard,” Berg said.
Berg also said he sees potential for a shot at the level beyond college.
“I’ve coached a lot of good players, and no disrespect. But (McMahon) is the first I’d say could play pro somewhere,” Berg said.
Contact Frontiersman managing editor Jeremiah Bartz at email@example.com.