- Michael Rothstein, ESPN Staff Writer
He hadn’t played a meaningful game in a long time, forced to sit out his junior season of high school due to a squabble with the California Interscholastic Federation over a transfer. So when Kameron Chatman (Long Beach, Calif./Long Beach Poly) played last month for Inner City Players, it was a mix of emotions.
Relief. Jubilation. Rust from having missed a season of basketball after transferring from Oregon to Long Beach Poly. And he would have to deal with all of it while playing some of the top competition in the country on Nike’s EYBL circuit.
“It was hard to see, to not be on the court and just watch my team,” Chatman said. “I supported them in practice and stuff like that, but to not be able to get into the game, it was a hard thing.
“Mentally, it made me better, made me stronger.”
He would use Poly’s practices as his own games, working on his leadership by trying to take the reserve team and beat the Poly starters. Then he’d spend time on his own game.
His recruitment, though, took an interesting turn. By not being able to play, coaches couldn’t see him. Over the past two weeks, though, coaches have renewed interest in the No. 49 player in the Class of 2014, including Michigan, Oregon, Tennessee, UCLA and USC, among others.
By the end of his second weekend of games in the April evaluation period, his game was starting to return, and Michigan continued to express interest. Chatman’s father and AAU coach, Canaan Chatman, said Michigan coach John Beilein called him this week to say how much they wanted his son.
“Coach B called this week and said after LA, he liked Kameron and liked him a lot and that he had a good feel for the game and that he could help Michigan stay at the top of the Big Ten, help them keep marching for national championships,” Canaan said. “After Boo Williams weekend in Virginia, [Beilein said] I absolutely love him and he’s a top priority and he is a kid we absolutely need to have. That was very encouraging for us.”
Kameron Chatman said his recruitment is “open” right now as he continues to evaluate schools and sees what teams are continuing to show interest in him. His father, though, said they are planning to take a trip to Michigan on June 1 -- Kameron’s 17th birthday -- for the Wolverines’ College Practice Camp.
With it could come an offer from the Wolverines, adding to a lot of Pac-12 offers Chatman has received. Michigan’s interest in Chatman started with assistant Jeff Meyer, whom Canaan says he has known dating to Meyer’s days at Missouri and is someone he calls “a very, very close friend of our family.” The rest of Michigan’s coaches, Canaan said, saw Kameron play in person for the first time over the past month.
“They said basically that I will be a Glenn Robinson,” Kameron Chatman said. “Just a wing that would do everything.”
What intrigues teams about Chatman is his ability to do most things well. Canaan had stressed ball handling to his son from a young age, so even as he grew to 6-foot-7, he continued to focus on ball skills. Canaan has had Kameron work on rebounding from the guard spot, and Kameron said his main focus between now and the July evaluation period will be to pick up the nuance of defending guards with his height since he might have to do that in college.