Kameron Chatman is the highest-ranked recruit of Michigan’s 2014 class, coming in as the 26th-ranked player in his class and a consensus four-star. The hype is justified — at 6-foot-8 with a long wingspan, Chatman’s diverse set of skills allow him to play anywhere from the four to the one in John Beilein’s offense. Recruiting sites aren’t the only one’s who’ve taken notice of the Portland native’s talent — Chatman recently played at the prestigious Jordan Brand Classic in Brooklyn and was also invited to try out for the USA Basketball U18 National Team in June. We sat down for an extended interview with Chatman for our Getting to know series on Michigan’s 2014 recruiting class.
So how have you been? Busy since your commitment, it seems.
I been good, just been working out and going to school, playing in the Jordan Brand game. That’s pretty much it.
How was the Jordan Brand Classic?
It was good. I was happy to be selected. It was by far the best thing I’ve ever experienced. Off the court and stuff, it was nice. We got to talk to Michael Jordan. It was a pretty good experience. And it was in New York, so I had a pretty good time.
How do you think you played?
I think I did pretty well. The minutes were short but I think I played pretty well for the time I was in. I wish we could have won, but you know.
Are you excited to play against those guys in college?
Yeah, definitely. I’m excited to play against those guys in college. You play against each other in AAU and stuff, but college is a different level, so I’m excited.
You were at an EYBL event in Sacramento recently?
I went to Sacramento with [my former AAU team], I just happened to be down there.
You were staying with DJ Wilson while you were down there, right?
Yeah, I stayed with DJ down in Sacramento. My dad and his mom talked before, probably a couple months ago. So we planned on going down there and we knew that he lived there in Sacramento. I just stayed with him for a couple days to get to know him and stuff like that.
What’s it been like reconnecting with DJ?
I actually had a good time. We’ve got a good bond going. When I came down there I stayed at his house with his mom and grandma. We had a good time. We worked a little bit, helped out with the kids in a tournament, stuff like that. I had a good time.
Did you guys run into John Beilein while you were down there?
Yeah, Coach Beilein and Coach Vall [Jordan]. They both came to the gym and we had some conversations with them and stuff like that. It was a good trip.
Michigan’s had a few guys jump to the NBA this offseason, leaving some opportunities for you guys coming in. Is it exciting to enter that sort of situation?
Yeah, definitely. Everybody wants to play. Just having that option of being able to take up minutes is always exciting. I’m excited to get in there and produce.
When you see guys go from Michigan to the NBA, does it sort of remind you of one of the reasons you chose Michigan in the first place?
Definitely. That’s probably the most important thing after high school: getting better. Seeing them produce over and over for the past three years, and then winning also, and the system coach Beilein has and how he coaches, that was definitely one of the reasons why I chose Michigan.
You’re projected as a guy who can play the one through the four. Are you most comfortable at any particular position?
No, I wouldn’t say that. I actually do better when I’m more versatile, just playing. I’m better when I’m just playing basketball. In general, with Michigan, how they play with four out, one in, it won’t make much of a difference where I play. I would say that I’m more comfortable just being a player. Wherever coach puts me, I would say I’m more comfortable with that.
Have you been keeping in contact with the coaching staff?
I’ve been talking to everybody. Coach Beilein, Coach Vall, Coach BA [Bacari Alexander]. I’m really talking to Coach Sanderson right now. He had a conversation with me and my trainer, just giving me workouts so we can have some type of feel for how the summer will be and all that. I’ve been keeping in contact with all the coaches. Coach Meyer too.
What does Coach Sanderson have you doing?
Just like a lot of muscle endurance stuff. I’m working on my eating habits, too. Just tips and stuff like that, not actual full workouts. He can’t really control that right now being in Michigan. but little tips and stuff.
When are you planning on being in Ann Arbor?
I got invited to 18-and-under Team USA, so depending on that — if I don’t make the team, I should be there right before orientation, like the 19th or something like that. But if I do make the team, the USA thing goes all the way to the 24th, so if I make I’ll probably be there around the 24th of June.
Do you know any of the guys who will be trying out for the USA National Team?
Yeah, most of the Jordan Brand guys. I’ll probably see the same guys I see at the [Nike] Skills Academy that I’ve been going to and the Jordan game. It’s probably those same type of guys.
When you watched Michigan in the NCAA tournament this season, were you thinking to yourself what you could have done to help the team?
I was just watching the offense and I feel that it fits me well. The ball screen action, I work in that very well. That was a factor with Michigan, too — how they ran the offense. Just a lot of ball screen action, coming off screens, reading screens and defenders, I do well with that. Just seeing Nik and Glenn and Caris use ball screens, I can see myself doing that.
Who are you pulling for in the NBA playoffs?
Well, right now, I’m in a debate. My favorite player is James Harden, but they’re playing against the Portland Trail Blazers right now. I don’t really know how to go about that series, but right now I think I have to go with the Blazers.
What’s something Michigan fans might not know about you?
I would say probably that I really like shoes. And I’m really funny. When I get to know people, I’m a comedian. People tell me that.
What activities do you enjoy off the court?
I like to listen to music. I love music. I don’t think I could go a day without music. I play video games. I don’t play video games a lot, but when I’m with my friends I like to play video games. What else do I like to do? Oh, I like to eat, too. I like to try different food.
What kind of music do you listen to?
I listen to a lot of West Coast music. I listen to guys like Dom Kennedy, Nipsey Hussle, YG. I like the West Coast music.
Do you listen to any particular music before games?
I like to listen to Nipsey Hussle before games. He’s like a motivational rapper. I like to listen to him because his music is kind of motivational and it gets me going.
What are some of your favorite movies?
Okay, my favorite movie by far is He Got Game. That’s my favorite movie of all time. I like the movie Paid in Full, too. I like Blue Chips.
What’s your best sport other than basketball?
I used to play football and baseball. I would say I had fun playing football. Football was probably the most fun outside of basketball.
Are there any NBA players whose game is similar to yours?
I don’t think NBA-wise. I have a different kind of playing mentality. People used to compare me to Lamar Odom a lot. To me, I would say I do play like him because when I do see him he fits my game, but I wouldn’t say exactly how I play or how I want to play.
Any idea what you’ll be studying at Michigan?
I’m not exactly sure yet. I thought about communications. But just going in, I’m going to have to see how I like it and stuff like that. I’m not exactly sure what I’m going to study yet.
Who’s been an inspiration to you in your basketball career?
I would say my family. My mom, dad, brother, sister. I would say mostly, just, my city. Portland being so small, it’s about three Division-I players coming out of my city. So everybody’s behind us, supporting us and stuff like that, wanting us to make it. I would say mostly that.
What’s the best advice you’ve received?
It was actually recent. It was actually from Michael Jordan. We had a Q&A with him. And somebody asked him how he prepared before games. He told told us that he didn’t prepare. During practice, he would go so hard, and do everything correctly and try to be perfect to the point where, when it came to the game, it was just natural. He didn’t have to prepare. It was just basically a show he was about to put on.