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Dick Harmon: Former BYU star's son Jordan Chatman is a chip off the ol' block

Published: Thursday, July 30 2015 11:55 p.m. MDT

Jordan Chatman (Chatman family) Jordan Chatman (Chatman family)

Jeff Chatman is in Newport Beach, Calif., taking one final family fling in the sun.

In three weeks, he'll send his oldest son, Jordan, on a mission to Taipei, Taiwan, for two years. This comes after Jordan was named the high school basketball Player of the Year in Washington and committed to sign with BYU.

It's a good time to take a peek at Jeff Chatman and update the legacy left to his son.

Jeff Chatman is BYU's No. 7 scorer of all time with 1,824 points. He averaged 15 points and 5.7 rebounds a game. He was a .549 shooter during his career. He had an engaging personality, quick to smile, easy to laugh.

It's been almost 25 years since Chatman helped lead BYU to a 17-0 start and No. 2 ranking under LaDell Andersen with teammates Michael Smith, Marty Haws, Brian Taylor and Jim Usevitch.

The Cougars had just defeated Utah 82-64 on Feb. 4, 1988. Due to some odd scheduling quirk, they found themselves on a plane the next day traveling to Birmingham, Ala., to play UAB on Feb 6. They lost 102-83.

"It was bad timing, just terrible," said Chatman. He grew up in nearby Talladega and the game ruined his homecoming with family and friends in the stands.

I remember that trip to Birmingham when current Deseret News columnist Brad Rock and I worked for different newspapers, but both of us witnessed a train wreck of a road trip for Andersen and Co. Our notes were the same. What could have happened if BYU had stayed around the Marriott Center that week? Perhaps a No. 1 ranking?

Rock and I still talk about that road trip and game and trade stories about LaDell.

There is a whole generation of BYU fans who never saw Chatman play. He was a long-armed 6-foot-6 post player who primarily scored inside the paint. He had big, soft hands and a nice limited-range jump shot.

People may wonder what happened to Jeff Chatman after Provo.

Since graduating from BYU, Chatman has experienced much success in the computer industry, first at IBM, then WordPerfect and Novell, and then a stint at Microsoft where he worked as a branch manager for eight years until he got what he calls the "entrepreneur bug" and started his own business.

Chatman recently created two emergency dental care clinics in Oregon. One is in Portland, the other near Beaverton.

Jeff and his wife Leah have eight children. Leah came from a family where all her siblings were given names that begin with the letter L. She did the same with the Chatmans, using the letter J.

Their oldest daughter Jocelyn is a junior at BYU. Jordan will enter the MTC in Provo on April 25 and Jessica is a sophomore in high school, who just accepted a scholarship to play for Jeff Judkins as a Cougar basketball player. Jayden is 12, Jace 9, Joshua 7, Janessa 5 and Jalise is 3.

Hope they aren't all in the same hotel room in Newport.

Jeff said the first time it hit him that his son was Division I material was before his sophomore season, playing AAU ball (Northwest Prospects). He had coaches from Utah State, Utah, BYU and Pac-10 schools approach him and praise his son for his abilities.

He looked at Jordan differently from that point on and he saw what they saw. Jordan controlled the ball, visualized the court, easily saw his teammates, and shot the lights out against very tough competition from around the country.

"He had always been a good player, but that particular tournament he was tearing it up, he was hard to stop," said Jeff.

In ensuing months Jordan had scholarship offers from BYU, Washington State, Stanford, Oregon State, Boston College, Utah and Utah State.

"I was a guy that had to be fed the ball," said Jeff. "He's the kind of player who can feed the ball and make others better."

There is a stark contrast in father and son between the baselines. Jeff is nothing like Jordan, a 6-4 ball-handler and passer who can bury shots from the NBA 3-point stripe, has great court vision and plays with his eyes up high. Folks say Jordan's basketball IQ is perfect for a backcourt quarterback and playmaker.

"It was really an honor for Jordan to be named the best player in the state, especially with all those athletes from the Seattle area. It was a thrill," said Jeff.

In coming days, his son will put basketball on the back burner, take up a white shirt and tie and prepare for a foreign land with a different language and customs.

For that job, the father easily defines his son's qualifications for the work at hand.

"I like how he treats everybody. He treats everybody the same. He doesn't see himself as a superstar athlete. He's good with children and adults; he's really quiet and humble and he is serious about the gospel. He's been set on going on a mission since he was a child and he is very excited about his call."

And so another generation of Chatmans begin a path of post-high school play that couldn't be more different.

The father came to BYU a non-LDS athlete who wanted a chance to prove himself on the court. The son will set aside everything in his life to preach and teach, the first in his family to face that challenge before anything else.

It won't be until 2014 that Jordan will step into a Cougar uniform and begin the journey his father once did as a Division I basketball player.

But for today, in Newport, in an extended Chatman family spring break, the "Js" definitely do have it going.

email: dharmon@desnews.com Twitter: Harmonwrites

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