Freshman Focus: Kameron Chatman

Dylan Burkhardt

As far as high-profile recruitments go, Kameron Chatman’s commitment to Michigan was about as uneventful as can be.

Chatman didn’t hold a press conference or a TV special, he kept things simple as he gave his pledge to John Beilein and his entire assistant coaching staff in-person during a home visit. The 6-foot-7 forward’s decision came as something of a surprise as he chose to travel 2,400 miles to college rather than staying on the West coast and committing to Arizona as many predicted he would.

But John Beilein got his man and Chatman is a Wolverine. The Portland native and self-described ‘goofball’ is one of the more unique prospects in the country. Ranked 27th nationally, he’s also the second highest rated recruit that John Beilein has landed in Ann Arbor (according to the 247 Composite Rankings).

As a sophomore, Chatman was just a 6-foot-3 point guard at playing 1A ball at Columbia Christian. But a late growth spurt led to a big summer on the AAU circuit and suddenly he was 6-foot-6 and one of the most coveted prospects in the country. He also opted to transfer to Long Beach Poly for his junior season, where he would eventually be ruled ineligible due to transfer regulations and was forced to play junior varsity basketball. Sitting out his junior season was a setback, but Chatman had already arrived on the national radar.

He returned to the floor in the summer of 2013 with ICP Elite on the Nike EYBL circuit and put up impressive per-game averages of 16 points and ten rebounds per night. He also stopped by Michigan’s College Practice Camp, making the cross-country flight to show off his skills in Ann Arbor and earn an offer from John Beilein.

Chatman earned invitations to all of the requisite summer All-American camps including the LeBron James Skills Academy and NBPA Top 100 Camp. A few months after the summer wound down, Chatman gave Michigan his commitment. Chatman opted to return to Columbia Christian in Portland for his senior season and led the Knights to 24-5 record and a State Championship. He averaged 21.5 points, nine rebounds and five assists per game during his senior year and earned invitations to the Jordan Brand Classic and USA Basketball’s U18 Training Camp.

RELATED: Getting to Know Kameron Chatman

Chatman will arrive in Ann Arbor with big shoes to fill after Michigan lost three players to the NBA Draft, but the harder part of the puzzle is figuring out where he fits and what position he will play. Standing 6-foot-7, he isn’t an overwhelming athlete, but he can influence the game in a multitude of different ways. His length and versatility should provide John Beilein with a perfect base to craft into his future wing player.

“No, I wouldn’t say that (I am more comfortable in a certain position),” Chatman told UM Hoops in May. “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.”

Chatman’s signing day attire was as unique as his skillset / OregonLive

Chatman will always have those point guard skills that he honed as a younger player. He has the vision and the ball handling ability rarely seen in a player standing 6-foot-7, but he’s not likely to be a point guard yet. His ideal projection to the next level is likely to follow the mold of former UCLA and future San Antonio Spurs forward Kyle Anderson. Anderson isn’t the best athlete, but he can pass, score in spots and knows how to run a team. As far as next season goes, Chatman is likely to play the four position in Michigan’s offense.

“Let us talk about the four spot.  We don’t even like saying ‘the four spot.’  [Kameron Chatman] will be a right side guy because he is left handed and he will be able to just flow and play and fit in with the offense perfectly when he is down in the wing position, a little bit like Novak, as a lefty,” Michigan assistant coach Jeff Meyer explained on WTKA . “He was a lefty that played on the right side, so you think about where Glenn played these past two years.  You think about where Kam can fit in best with Glenn’s departure, it is definitely on that right side as a wing player.”

Chatman’s perimeter shooting stroke has been a question mark since he shot 17% on the Nike EYBL circuit, but he’s shown signs that he’s a much better shooter than that. Most video footage from his senior season features him knocking down the three and he’s a very good shooter in the 14 to 18 foot range. His ability to shoot the ball at a high-major level will be what separates him from a useful player or a future star.

Michigan might need to lean heavily on Chatman as a freshman, but not in the ways you might think. The Wolverines have scorers (Caris LeVert and Zak Irvin) and a reliable point guard (Derrick Walton), but Chatman could be the glue that holds everyone together. Look for Chatman to make the extra passes, handle the ball enough to defenses honest and spread the floor. On the defensive end of the floor, he should look to make an impact as a rebounder – an area where he’s excelled throughout his prep career.

Bottom Line

Chatman is the odds on favorite to replace Glenn Robinson III in Michigan’s rotation, but he’s a very different player. Michigan will lose athleticism at the four spot, but gain ball skills and versatility. Chatman’s insertion in the rotation will change the dynamic of Michigan’s offense and it will require some other roles to shift as well.

  • Fab 5 Legends

    Jalen Rose 2.0 – his got a body like Jalen & ball handling skills – should be interesting to see him at the 4 spot

    • I love Jalen, but I think it’ll take a while before Chatman is Rose 2.0. For all of his versatility, I still think he’s strictly a front court guy for now. Beilein’s offense will cater toward a front court playmaker very well though.

      • Fab 5 Legends

        Sounds good, ya I figured – reading up on your articles he would be used in the frontcourt but definitely versatile player as you mentioned – stretch the offense (typical Beilein 4)

      • geoffclarke

        I think he’ll definitely have the type of playmaking ability from the free throw area that Mitch has. If he can hit the outside shot consistently, watch out.

  • Northern Blue

    Packing on good lean muscle, improving footspeed and improving his jumpshot should be his focus right now. Good looking prospect who I see being a solid role player this year and breaking out with a summer to get better and stronger and more touches with the expectation Caris is gone after this year.

    Thanks for that post. Some good footage I have never seen before. Can definitely see him as a 3 down the road.

    Is it possible that because he is left handed that they would run a lot of the same sets as they did for Stauskas from the other side of the floor for him and then you could stick a lesser ball handler in the GR3 role on his more natural side of the floor?

  • DingoBlue

    Good post. I did notice that the highlights didn’t seem to show Kam taking a corner three. that will definitely be an aspect of his game he will need to work on to help the team out. GRIII hitting the corner threes down the line saved Michigan’s bacon more than a few times.

    • True. Worth noting that the corner three is usually the shot of a peripheral player. Chatman is definitely not that on his AAU team, so spends more time above the break. Gotta think that the corner three attempts will come just with a different role.

      • DingoBlue

        Agreed. Wonder if his EYBL role was closer to a “peripheral” player in that sense. Maybe that helps to explain the disparity between HS and EYBL 3 point shooting? Of course, that could also just be related to level of competition.

        Edit: just reread your post and mine and mine doesn’t make sense. Really puzzled by the 3 point percentage difference.

        • Nope. His EYBL team was pretty bad and he was the best player by a pretty wide margin. Probably more to do with the competition and not being able to get great looks.

      • John Billington

        I don’t see scoring being a problem with this team from anyone on the floor, rebounding on the defensive side would be the concern for me. The offense usually runs so efficient that rebounds on that side of the court doesn’t hurt us as bad as other teams get hurt. So hopefully his good rebounding skills transfer to the next level especially of the defensive side. I think overall the team last year surprised most but this year will prove Coach B is an elite level coach.

  • Chezaroo

    Time will tell how fast Kam will be able to adjust to D1 ball. Didn’t his HS team play in the lowest division in his state? Love his skill set and attitude, however I won’t be surprised if the transition to college is a rough one.

    • Yep — 1A is the lowest division in Oregon. A big reason that it would have been good for Kam to play at Poly. But he has played high levels of competition as well: EYBL, USA, Top100 camps, etc.

      • Chezaroo

        Lot of VERY high expectations for the young man, I still think he is going to initially struggle before he is a real factor.

        • geoffclarke

          Hard to say. He didn’t look out of place in the Jordan game, even though he got few minutes. He seems like a player who understands his strengths, and with that, comes confidence. Add that to the tremendous opportunity he’ll have in front of him for minutes, plus the clear role the coaches will give him and their propensity to play to each player’s strengths, and he could do well right out of the gate. He’ll probably be the fourth option offensively and he is an unselfish player.

  • Swan

    Looks like he starts his shot really low, hope that wont be an issue for him. Like his overall skill set though

    • Yep. Noticed that as well. Kind of a funky release that could be mor difficult to accomplish at the next level.

    • jkuofm27

      I agree. The only thing I will say is the way Beilein and crew have this thing setup is that his role will be so limited this year that he will have plenty of time to fine tune his game before it “really” matters next year. Not that he won’t get major minutes this year, but what he will be asked to do is basically take open jump shots or pump fake, drive and either dish or shoot. Just like Irvin this year, he is capable of a lot more, but that is all that will be required of him, so his limitations will be minimized.

      I agree with Geoff about the Jordan game. He looked like one of the better all around players in that game. I think his game is a perfect match for the Beilein system and I am excited to see him grow. In theory, he could play 1-4, although I know that 3-4 will be his role at least this year.

  • Kenny

    Not convinced that Kam is ready to play 4 in Big Ten, even not in the long run because of his body type. I predict a lot of shuffling at 3/4 positions during the season, at least in the beginning. Hope that I am wrong because someone need to step up at 4.

    • I see what you are saying, but look at Novak/Robinson.. neither was necessarily ready to play the four physically.

      Dawkins is a sleeper to play the four, I think that’s probably his primary position to learn as a frosh.

      The other key is finding someone to play the five… If Donnal/Doyle struggle… Beilein might have to try to play Wilson there as skinny as he is.. Similar to Smotrycz at times.

      • Rob

        why do you think Dawkins would not get a shot at the three’s backup minutes?
        I realize Belein always has had a small 4 and Dawkins could continue that by being an option to go small vs KAM/Wilson but are Dawkins’ handles at the 3 deficient or his defensive ability there limited?

    • geoffclarke

      My hope is that Donnal and Doyle will be able to cover the 5 between them, allowing Wilson to push Chatman at the 4. I would really like Wilson’s length at the 4, but even Chatman gives us a longer player than we’ve recently had. And I hope all of these guys push themselves defensively, especially with help and rebounding.

  • jakelam2116

    Kam’s going to be a good player, but I wouldn’t project him as more than a solid role player who picks his spots this year. From when I saw him at the Nike Global Challenge last July, he was happy to defer to more explosive offensive teammates. The great thing is he’s a really good kid who will soak up everything the coaches teach him — his progression will be steady, I’d predict, as opposed to bursting onto the scene.