The BC men’s basketball team exceeded all expectations last season.
They saw a tremendous rise from a bottom-dweller in the ACC to a fringe contender after finishing the season 19-16 with seven conference wins and an appearance in the NIT Tournament. They defeated ranked opponents in Florida State, Miami, and of course No. 1 Duke at home. Additionally, they reached the quarterfinals in the ACC tournament after entering as the 12th best team in the conference. When it was all said and done, they had tallied two All-ACC players on the cusp of national contention and have now added a great recruiting class for next season. With all the team had accomplished last year, there was an overall feeling of excitement and a general expectation of greater things to come for this core group of players.
Yet, that excitement took a bit of a hit when BC’s best all-around player, Jerome Robinson, was selected 13th overall by the Los Angeles Clippers in the 2018 NBA Draft. While the decision made sense from Robinson’s position, it could not have come at a worse time for the ascending Eagles. After an inspiring season, is there any chance that a Robinson-less BC team could still make noise in the ACC and compete for a spot in the NCAA tournament?
While star guard Ky Bowman will undoubtedly be the leader of the team as one of the NCAA’s best returning players and a strong candidate for ACC Player of the Year, there is another player to keep an eye on who can fill the role that Jerome Robinson has donned the past three seasons: Jordan Chatman.
Chatman, a former BYU transfer, is entering his third season with the Eagles and will need to form a dynamic duo with Bowman in order to finally push the team over the hump and secure its first NCAA tournament bid since 2009.
It will be difficult to replace Robinson’s 20.7 PPG on 48.5% shooting and 3.3 APG, but Chatman is without a doubt the best candidate to become BC’s next lights-out shooter. After going under-the-radar for all of last season, Chatman is ready to break out in a big way.
Chatman is labeled as a sharp-shooter but can also drive the lane and score from virtually anywhere on the floor. He has a great size for a guard, standing tall at a height of 6-5, yet he is deceptively mobile in his up-tempo style of play.
After seeing a rapid uptick in minutes per game each season since joining the Eagles, Chatman has delivered on the scoreboard.
After red-shirting his freshmen year at BYU, Chatman averaged only 2.7 PPG in 10.3 MPG on 38% shooting from the field and 34% shooting from three.
Transferring to BC for his sophomore season, he appeared in all 32 games, averaging 8.6 PPG in an even greater 24.8 MPG on 41.8% shooting and 41.7% shooting from beyond the arc, ranking 9th in the ACC from the three. That season, he made seven total starts against ACC opponents, foreshadowing a greater presence on the roster for the following year.
Chatman deservedly received a larger role as the starting small forward for the Eagles his junior season, starting 34 of 35 games and averaging a career-high 12.9 PPG in 36.8 MPG with slightly similar percentages to his sophomore season, shooting 41.5% from the field and 39.5% from three. He attempted more field goals last season (9.9 FGA) than he had combined his first two seasons (9.1 FGA), demonstrating a confidence in his scoring ability as a starter.
Chatman now has the chance to attain even greater heights as a full-time starter and one of the team leaders at the guard position. His confidence should only grow now that the team has fully entrusted him to consistently start games in the backcourt.
In previous years, Chatman was never viewed as the primary scoring option, but that could change coming into this seas0n. Chatman will soak up Robinson’s minutes at shooting guard and could eclipse his career-high in minutes, reaching a potential of 38-40 MPG.
If the trend continues and Chatman is given even more opportunities on the floor, he has the chance to average well over 15 PPG and quite possibly even reach Robinson’s total of 20 PPG from last season.
Chatman’s production will also be determined by the team's bench play. Averaging around 38 MPG will not be sustainable for the whole season. A healthy, efficient bench can alleviate some of the pressure on Chatman and give the Eagles a chance to succeed with the starters off the court.
Last season, Johncarlos Reyes and Luka Kraljevic spent the bulk of the time backing up Nik Popovic at center, while forward Vin Baker Jr. sparingly provided minutes off the bench. The team also lacked a true back-up point guard, experimenting with Avery Wilson only occasionally.
Head Coach Jim Christian will welcome true freshmen Wynston Tabbs and Jairus Hamilton as players who can provide a spark off the bench or even slide into the starting lineup. Tabbs lines up as a combo-guard who can play the one or two spot, while Hamilton can virtually play anywhere, lining up as a guard, small forward, or stretch four. The presence of both Tabbs and Hamilton will give Chatman rest as either a guard or forward and will certainly factor into his level of play as the season progresses.
As the oldest and most experienced player on the roster, Chatman has the chance to emerge as a key mentor for a young core. His veteran presence will be crucial as Christian looks to hand over the reins to the youngsters following the departure of the Eagles' key piece last year and the potential for Bowman to soon depart to the NBA draft.
While Jerome Robinson will undoubtedly go down as one of the all-time greats at BC, Jordan Chatman has the chance to carve out his own legacy this upcoming season. With his role ever-increasing on the court, only time will tell if the veteran can capitalize on the opportunity.
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