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Turning point comes to point guard

03/07/2013, 12:28pm PST
By Steve Brand

Iman Chatman has no trouble remembering when he become a different kind of athlete.

Not many athletes can remember a dramatic point in their career when they were forced to become a different kind of athlete.

Mater Dei Catholic’s Iman Chatman remembers clearly.

“A year ago we were playing Hilltop and I was asked to guard their best player,” said the 6-foot-2 junior basketball point guard. “I tried to block a shot near the end but instead I committed a foul. He made all three free throws to win the game.

“I had a talk with myself and the team after that promising from that day on to improve my playing.”

Coach Kenny Caesar noticed another thing in that game.

“I told him ‘You’re the guy, you’re taking the last shot,’” said the Crusaders coach. “He didn’t want to do it. I told my assistant coach that if it took 10 more times, we were going to help him get his confidence. I thought either he’d gain confidence or he’d quit.”

Chatman may have been reluctant to put up the last shot, but he wasn’t about to quit. Even now he might not take the game-deciding shot but not because he’s afraid he’ll miss.

“I just needed to improve my play but I also want us to get the best possible chance and if that means hitting an open teammate with a pass, that’s what I’ll do,” he said. “If it means taking it myself, with the best chance to win, I’ll do that.”

Chatman was a key player for the Crusaders who this year marched into the San Diego Section Division IV championships after beating Francis Parker, the team that stopped them a year ago in the quarterfinals.

He averaged 18 points, 7 rebounds, 4 steals and 3 assists a game.

Although Mater Dei Catholic lost in its first finals appearance since 1968, it qualified for the Southern California Regional. And Chatman turned more than a few heads by scoring 25 points in the closer-than-expected 56-50 loss to Army-Navy Academy.

He remembers one thing very clearly, though.

“I turned the ball over when we were only behind by three points with 30 seconds to go,” he says, obviously wishing he could have the ball back in his hands in the same situation. “That was a killer. But that’s basketball, too.”

Caesar says that reaction show how much the 16-year-old has matured since last year.

“He does amazing stuff now,” Caesar said. “He is a leader and he’s very confident.”

That figures to carry over to the fall where he is a starting wide-receiver on the football team. While others believe that’s where he excels, and he himself is hoping for a huge senior year to attract college scholarship offers, he still admits it is basketball, a sport he started when a friend convinced him to try out for a travel team at age 11, that he likes best.

This spring, in fact, he plans to play travel basketball and to run for the track team, which he enjoyed doing as a freshman.

That is when he isn’t participating with a pair of service clubs — Boyz to Men and Jack and Jill—where he helps out at Rady’s Children Hospital and downtown homeless shelters.

“I enjoy it,” says Chatman who wants to major in journalism in college, “I like to help others. It helps me appreciate what I have.”

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