After being forced to sit out his junior season due to a transfer issue, 2014 Long Beach (Calif.) Poly wing Kameron Chatman is back on the floor this spring, seeing real game action for his AAU team, ICP Elite, and the four-star talent is playing as well as anyone in the country.
For the Chatman family, it’s a breath of fresh air after a long, frustrating winter.
“The big thing for us was just really putting high school behind us, jumping into this AAU season for him to get his feet back under him again and make the run towards Peach Jam,” Chatman’s father told GoBlueWolverine. “This NIKE circuit is different than any other circuit, where every game you play, every possession matters, and we’re held accountable -- holding our kids accountable.
“For Kameron, it was great to just get him on the court.”
Standing 6-foot-7, 190-pounds with a 6-foot-11 wingspan, Chatman plays anywhere from point guard to power forward for ICP Elite. Out of necessity, Chatman was forced to be the primary ball handler in recent weeks, exemplifying tremendous versatility, coming up with the only triple-double recorded on the EYBL circuit this spring, going for 12 points, 13 rebounds, and 12 assists in a win Saturday night in Minnesota.
“He’s going to do what he does which is play sound basketball, make shots, make plays for teammates, getting his butt on the boards, and just doing whatever it is to help his team win,” said Chatman’s father. “Asking him to do that was a lot.”
Chatman, the No. 39 overall player in the country according to FOXSportsNEXT.com’s 2014 prospect rankings, is embracing another challenge this spring -- the double teams, box and one’s, and ball denial all over the floor is what comes when other teams know who they’ll need to stop to have a fighting chance at a win.
“He’s always been a piece on good teams, but he’s never been the man,” said Chatman’s father. “So this was the first year people are playing ICP Elite and they’re scouting and he’s the guy that’s circled at the top of the scouting report.
“He’s had to adjust to that and that was totally new -- just being that guy. He never shied away from it, struggled at times but through coaching, film, and talking about it, he made that adjustment so I’ve seen him grow tremendously over the last three months and look forward to this month of June and July.”
This upcoming weekend Chatman and his father plan to put AAU on hold in place of a cross country flight to Ann Arbor for an unofficial visit, and to participate in Michigan’s one day, College Practice Camp on Saturday, also Chatman’s birthday, coincidently. Originally intending to take official visits in the fall, Chatman says that’s still the plan, but unofficial visits this summer were too enticing to pass up.
“We planned to take unofficial visits where they were convenient,” he said. “USC is in our backyard, UCLA is here, and he’ll be in Oregon the following weekend. So we started thinking about it because as he narrows it down, we understand the game as well.
“With coach Beilein, we wanted to convey to him that we have a sincere interest in Michigan. We understand the rule and that they don’t offer (unless you visit), just to kind of give them a level playing field, because we’re considering Michigan heavy, that it would be worth it for us to go ahead, get a couple of tickets, and come out there so that Kameron can get a chance to see them and they can get a chance to see Kameron and talk to him.”
The Wolverines have been on the ground floor of this recruitment for almost a year now, in regular contact, being present at games and open gyms, building on what already is a solid relationship between Chatman and the Michigan coach staff. According to Chatman’s father, that aspect will be huge for his son and his eventual commitment.
“Off the court is what’s going to seal the deal,” he said. “On the court, you’re in the stands watching kids play and all of the that but when you sit down and spend 10 or 15 minutes talking to him, you’re going to fall in love with him because he’s just a great kid.
“Coach Meyer said during one of his hour phone conversations with him about a month ago, he said it was one of the most refreshing conversations he’s had with a recruit in probably the last 10 or 15 years because Kameron is just a humble, honest cat.
“Strategically for us, because we know Michigan is recruiting other kids, we know that there’s other people that are on their list, and we also know that in the back of their mind, there may be some reservation about, ‘can we get this kid because he’s so far away?’ So, to kind of put those worries to rest, we felt that Michigan was enough of an option that let’s go ahead, jump on a plane, get that unofficial visit in, let them know we’re serious about the situation.”
Though the Chatman’s visit will signify their high level of interest in Michigan’s program, with the Wolverines extending a scholarship offer to reciprocate that interest, any notion that the second commitment in the 2014 class will happen on the spot can be laid to rest.
“Not at all,” said Chatman. “And that’s not a knock on Michigan. It’s a process. Kameron needs to get a feel for what he wants to do and he’ll do that with his high school coach or AAU coach, and then once it starts getting more serious, Kameron has a mom and dad that are going to sit him down, have a pros and cons list, and make a decision based on what we feel as a family, and what we feel is important for our son.
“But I like Michigan. And I like Michigan because I know the history of Michigan. And I know what’s going on at Michigan. I like coach B and I like what they’re doing, but again, it’s Kameron, and his familiarity -- how he feels about the kids that are there, the coaches, and all of that.
“I do know that he doesn’t want to stay close to home -- I know that. I don’t know if that’s just him wanting to grow up or if that’s a slight on me and his mama but he’s trying to get away from home -- which is fine and we have no problem with that.”
The Chatman’s fly into Detroit at 8:45 Friday evening, planning to spend time with Kameron’s cousin and current Detroit Lions defensive tackle, Ndamukong Suh, before having a birthday breakfast with more family Saturday morning prior to heading to Ann Arbor for the camp.
The plan is for the unofficial visit with Michigan to take place bright and early at eight in the morning Sunday, lasting roughly three hours before the Chatman’s head back to the Airport, and home, to Los Angeles.