Dreams are one thing and facts another. At this stage, former BYU forward Jeff Chatman isn't planning on getting the two mixed up.
With the NBA draft coming up Tuesday, Chatman remains among the most marketable of Utah's draft-eligible players. However, he says he isn't getting his hopes up. Contacted this week by telephone, Chatman seemed doubtful he'll be selected in the three-round draft."I think maybe I have a chance . . . but there's only three rounds, so it depends on what they want," he said.
Chatman had a fine senior year at BYU. The Cougars won 26 games and went to the NCAA playoffs. Chatman scored 19.5 points and made 59.5 percent of his field-goal attempts. He ended up fourth on BYU's all-time scoring list and was named honorable mention all-America by The Sporting News and all-WAC first team.
His drawbacks are obvious. Chatman is only 6-foot-6, and small forward is the only spot he could play. He has limited dribbling ability, little quickness and a modest repertoire of shots. On the positive side, he is an exceptional leaper and has a fine jump shot - he made almost 60 percent of his field-goal tries last year. In the past year he improved his drive to the hoop.
If Chatman is skeptical of his chances, Cougar Coach Ladell Andersen has enough confidence for everyone involved. "I really think Jeff is a fine pro prospect," said Andersen.
Andersen went on to praise Chatman's teachability and shooting prowess.
"He has one thing a lot of (layers) don't have," Andersen continued. "He has such exceptional touch on his shots. He's got to be recognized as a fine prospect. His chances are excellent. He is no secret. But it depends on the needs of the team."
Andersen said he would like to see Chatman with a team such as Phoenix, Dallas or Utah. Chatman also expressed interest in playing up the freeway from the Marriott Center. "I think I could really fit in with the Jazz," he said.
Chatman's teammate, 6-9 center Jim Usevitch, is also a distant possibility. He averaged 14.8 points and 7.2 rebounds last year and topped the Cougars with 41 blocked shots. Usevitch was honorable mention all-WAC.
A sleeper to watch is 6-1 Utah State guard Kevin Nixon, who averaged 16.0 points last year and ended up the Aggies' No. 7 career scorer. He is the highest scoring guard in Aggie history. Indications are that Sacramento - his home area - is seriously considering drafting Nixon or at least signing him as a free agent.