Chatman

For most high school students, summer is a time to decompress, spend time with family and friends, and perhaps get some traveling in. Long Beach Poly’s Kameron Chatman managed one of those, at least.

But the heavily-recruited senior-to-be has been doing too much traveling to rest, or to spend much time with his family. Instead, he’s been logging frequent flier miles while traveling from Long Beach to Portland, Seattle, Las Vegas, New Jersey, Washington, DC, Texas, and Virginia. Such is the life of an elite basketball player in the summer before his senior season, when colleges are doing their major evaluations. And because the events he’s been in are high-profile, big-money ones, Chatman hasn’t just been traveling, he’s been traveling in style.

“This whole summer, I’ve gotten spoiled,” he laughs. “I actually started getting used to cars picking me up with my name on them, all you can eat food at hotels, DJs in the hotels, all that stuff.”

The biggest event Chatman was invited to was the Nike Global Challenge, where he represented America in an international high school tournament. The event is one of the more elite tournaments held each summer, with a “Who’s who” roster of NBA alums. And, if private cars aren’t enough, Chatman and the other Nike invitees were treated to four duffel bags of gear.

He also attended Deron Williams’ Skills Academy in New Jersey, and LeBron James’ skills camp in Las Vegas, which was James’ first post-championship trip out of his media blackout. There, according to Chatman, he was relaxed and happy, enjoying spending time on the court with kids, instead of playing under heavy scrutiny, or fielding questions. Chatman met and talked with James. “He answered a lot of questions, and he came into the gym to play and work out with us—he was just walking around, working in some of the drills like he was one of us,” he says.

Chatman is a skilled player, 6’7” with LeBron-like court vision and passing ability. As such, he’s garnered heavy recruiting attention, but also has already caught the attention of the NBA, as well. He was invited to the NBA 100 camp, which is an annual event put on by the league for high school kids. The camp, hosted by the NBA and the NBA Players Association, seeks to help prepare players for a future life in pro basketball—as its mission statement says, to help with “development of their basketball and life skills.”

“That was interesting,” said Chatman. “They did a lot of education about our health, knowing our bodies, things like that, not just basketball.”

While Chatman has been jetting around, he’s had plenty of time to think, which is good, because with the dozens of scholarship offers he had, he’s had plenty to think about. And he’s narrowed his list of possible schools to USC, Oregon, Arizona, Michigan, and Utah. “Those are the schools I’ve felt the most comfortable with,” he said.

He’s also had time to think about the upcoming year. Chatman was ineligible for last season with Long Beach Poly, and he was sidelined for almost all of his sophomore year with a knee injury. “This summer has helped me to focus on that—it’s been really hard, not playing. It was January of my sophomore year the last time I played high school basketball,” he says. “I’ve got a fire burning.”

And while Chatman’s good friends Roschon Prince and Jordan Bell are off to USC and Oregon, respectively, and his godfather and longtime Poly coach Sharrief Metoyer is suspended for the upcoming season, for playing Chatman in a state playoff game while he was ineligible, the good-natured senior is excited for the upcoming year.

“I think because there’s a new coach and we lost Roschon and Jordan, a lot of people are writing us off—but this year is up to us, and what we want to do,” he says. “We’re really looking forward to it.”

In the meantime, Chatman is done for the summer. He’s going to do a little more traveling, taking visits to the schools he’s considering, so he can make as informed a decision as possible, but he’s done playing for a bit. Of course, he will miss the glitz and glamor of the travel ball world. “I didn’t fall in love with it,” he laughs. “But I came close.”

So the next three weeks of Chatman’s life will look a little more like your average student. He went to see the Conjuring, and now he’s spending time with his mom and dad, and his brother and sister, preparing for school, and thinking about his future. So even in the busiest of athletic summers, there’s a little real summer in there, too.

Sports Guy Mike Guardabascio has been writing professionally for a decade, with his work published in dozens of Southern California magazines and newspapers. He's won numerous awards and is the author of the historical book "Football in Long Beach."

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