Tar Heel Nation in rear view for future Coug

CHARLOTTE -- David Chadwick, the 6-9 All-State forward from North Carolina who will be suiting up for WSU next season, has only vague recollections of the NBA ballplayer that used to hang out at the Chadwick house. But the miracle of technology has preserved a glimpse -- a classic one, in fact -- of the toddler David being "rescued" from an Atlantic Ocean surf by the Charlotte Hornets guard.

As fate would have it, that wouldn't be the only time Tony Bennett plucked David Chadwick out of the churn.

Except the more recent version was from the unpredictable sea of basketball recruiting.

Pure geography rates Chadwick's commitment to WSU one of the more improbable Division I signings in the 2009 recruiting cycle. Indeed, an unofficial look at the archives suggests that Chadwick will become just the third North Carolinian ever to suit up for Ol' Wazzu, joining Norton Barnhill (1974-75) and Reco Rowe (1989-92).

BARNHILL: THIS COUGAR FROM CAROLINA WENT ON TO PLAY FOR THE SEATTLE SONICS AND NEW JERSEY NETS.

Chadwick didn't just grow up in Atlantic Coast Conference country. He grew up in an ACC family. His dad played at North Carolina for legendary coach Dean Smith and went to the Final Four in 1969.

As a kid, David sometimes imagined himself in Tar Heel blue, hitting the game-winning shot to beat Duke or N.C. State.

"In my early years, that's where I envisioned myself hitting the winning shot," Chadwick said recently. "But as I reached more competitive basketball, looking more toward getting recruited and eventually playing college basketball, it wasn't as important to me as finding a place that was right for me."

DAVID'S DAD, WHO has been the senior pastor at Forest Hill Church in Charlotte since 1980, is a longtime friend of Tony Bennett's.

Chosen in the second round of the 1992 NBA draft by the Hornets, Bennett met Rev. Chadwick not long after his arrival in Charlotte. The meeting was arranged by Chadwick's friend, Chip Sigmon, the strength and conditioning coach for the Hornets at the time.

"He said to me one day, ‘there's a new kid that's coming in, his name's Tony Bennett, and he's a really committed Christian, he's a wonderful kid,'" Chadwick recalled. "And I said, ‘gosh, I'd love to meet him.' So Chip set up a lunch where Tony, Chip and I had lunch together, and we must have talked for two or three hours, just enjoying each other's friendship. Over the next several years, Tony became another member of my family."

Bennett began attending Forest Hill, where he met his future wife, Laurel, who was the middle school youth pastor at the church. When the couple eventually married, Rev. Chadwick officiated.

Young David was just a toddler when Bennett was spending time with his family. "I honestly don't remember a whole lot -- vague, vague memories, pictures and knowing that he was here, but I don't remember a whole lot."

The images, however, tell their own stories.

"We have one video of David at the beach and a wave wiped him out," says Rev. Chadwick. "Tony picked him up and held him and David's crying. It's so weird to see that picture and now see David's (6-9 frame), ready to play for him."

CHADWICK NAMED ALL-STATE AFTER SOPHOMORE AND SENIOR SEASONS.

Despite their connection, Bennett didn't initially recruit David.

"The summer after my sophomore year," Chadwick said, "I went to the Nike camp in St. Louis, and some scouts that were there actually called Tony and his staff and said, ‘there's a kid that you should look at that would fit really well into your system.' Coach Bennett laughed and said, ‘yeah, I know him really well,' and we talked a little bit. It never actually got really serious. I think that the friendship factor kind of held us back."

A four-year starter at Charlotte Latin High School, Chadwick began attracting attention from Southeastern colleges as a sophomore, when he averaged 19 points and 10 rebounds. He was putting up similar numbers during his junior season before breaking his wrist and spraining an ankle. That sidelined him for last April's open recruiting period.

"I think that really affected me," he said. "It just kind of put me down on peoples' radars, because they just didn't know – (it was) kind of a question mark as to what I could do."

Chadwick began answering those questions when he attended the NBA Top 100 Camp last June.

Soon, college coaches were calling again. He was pursued by more than a dozen schools and had narrowed his choices to George Mason, Valparaiso, Rice, the College of Charleston and Ohio when he started to hear from Washington State, followed by overtures from N.C. State.

"It all happened pretty quickly," Chadwick said of his recruitment by WSU. "It was a bit weird with (Bennett) being here and actually recruiting you to come play on his team, instead of just being the friend that we knew so well. It was very different for me, but it helped me because I knew him so well, and how well my parents knew what kind of guy that he was."

Chadwick averaged 19 points, 12 rebounds and four blocks in the just-concluded season and was named Class 3A All-State.

"I was able to shoot a lot more than I did last year," he said, "and really expand my game to more of a complete player."

Chadwick is now working with Sigmon on conditioning and getting ready for the college game.

"It still hasn't totally sunk in yet," he said. "I mean, this is definitely ACC country, but we watch the Pac-10 games all the time now, and I'm following it very closely and keeping up with it. And I'm very excited about getting out there."

Pullman is more than 2,600 miles from Charlotte, but Chadwick believes the transition will be easier because of Bennett.

"Definitely, you know you're going out there to someone who's going to look after you and not let you get lost in the crowd," he said. "(It's) a big school, over 2,000 miles away. It's really going to be him watching out for me, and I know I'll be in good hands, with good teammates. I'm not worried about it at all."

With Aron Baynes' departure, look for Chadwick, fellow freshman Brock Motum, redshirt freshman James Watson and sophomore Charlie Enquist to vie for post playing time next season opposite DeAngelo Casto.

If you missed our recent feature stories on two of Chadwicks's Cougar classmates, point guard Xavier Thames and swingman Anthony Brown, here they are for your reading convenience ...
* Thames eyes immediate Wazzu impact
* Brown to arrive on long arm of Dick Bennett

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