Chatman: Time at UM 'wasn't wasted,' but UD is fresh start

Tony Paul
The Detroit News
Kameron Chatman

Detroit -- For the second time, Bacari Alexander got his man in Kameron Chatman.

Chatman, transferring from Michigan after two seasons, will continue his college career at Detroit with Alexander, who became head coach in April after spending six seasons on John Beilein's staff with the Wolverines.

Alexander, at Michigan, traveled to Portland, Oregon, to see Chatman when he was in high school.

Chatman told The Detroit News on Thursday he considered several Pac-12 schools, including Oregon State back near home, but has found himself a fan of Metro Detroit.

"I've been away from home before," said Chatman, who also moved to California as a junior in high school.

"I wouldn't say being (away from) home was a burden on me. It wasn't really a problem."

Alexander was hired in April, and two weeks later, Chatman became the fourth Michigan player to announce a transfer.

The conversation with Alexander started soon after that.

Chatman, a swingman who hit the biggest shot of Michigan's season with a last-second 3-pointer against Indiana to put the Wolverines in the NCAA Tournament, will have to sit out one season, before playing for the Titans in 2017-18. He'll have two years of eligibility remaining.

Detroit adds UM's Chatman, German 7-footer Eichler

Chatman plans to spend the off-year working on his body, and working on his defense, which, he acknowledged, wasn't up to par at Michigan. It's the big reason his minutes fell so dramatically from his freshman year to sophomore year.

"I would say that was a problem," Chatman said. "Being a two-way player can take you a long way, and when you can play both ends, it's hard to take you off the court. I'll be focusing on that."

Chatman, who turned 20 on June 1, averaged 15.2 minutes, 3.6 points and 2.5 rebounds as a freshman, when the Wolverines needed the young players to play a lot because of injuries. Chatman started 15 games.

But with most of the roster mostly healthy as a sophomore, he averaged just 7.2 minutes, 2.8 points and 1.4 rebounds. He started only two games his second season.

He refused to call the season frustrating, even though he said he came into the year expecting more.

"Yeah, I would agree with that," Chatman said. "At the end of the day, Coach Beilein felt that he was gonna put on the court who he felt could win most.

"I mean, I wouldn't change those two years at Michigan for anything. I learned so much on and off the court, building relationships. I will be friends with them for the rest of my life. ... Those two years weren't wasted in any way."

With Zak Irvin healthy this year, and the emergence of transfer Duncan Robinson, Aubrey Dawkins was moved to the sixth-man spot, helping cut down on Chatman's minutes. Looking forward, Michigan returns every starter from the end of last season, plus expects more out of Moritz Wagner, plus a promising recruiting class that could get big minutes almost right away.

Chatman was one of four Michigan players to transfer, including Spike Albrecht (Purdue), Ricky Doyle (Florida Gulf Coast) and Dawkins (Central Florida, where his father, Johnny, is the head coach).

Still, telling Beilein wasn't easy.

"Oh, it was tough," Chatman said. "Just knowing that he believed in me coming out of high school, he gave me a chance. It was really tough to tell him.

"Michigan was a great school as well as a great program. I just feel like it didn't work out, basically. It's nothing with me or Coach.

"I just felt like I needed a new start."

At Michigan, Chatman always will be remembered for the 3-pointer he hit from just in front of the Michigan bench to stun the top-seeded Hoosiers in the Big Ten tournament -- for the signature win the Wolverines needed to get off the NCAA Tournament bubble. Michigan beat Tulsa, then lost to Notre Dame, in the NCAA Tournament.

While Alexander was the big selling point at Detroit, so was the fact assistant coach Jermaine Jackson stayed on staff. Chatman said he built a relationship with Jackson through his former Michigan teammate, Derrick Walton Jr.

Detroit also this week added German 7-footer Malik Eichler, 19, who spent a year at prep school in Massachusetts.

Alexander's first recruiting class also includes freshmen Corey Allen and Cole Long, and junior-college transfers Dre Black and Isaiah Jones.