UM's Big Ten tourney hero Chatman transfers

Tony Paul
The Detroit News
Kam Chatman

Ann Arbor -- And that makes four.

Kam Chatman, who hit the heroic shot in the Big Ten tournament that clinched Michigan a berth in the NCAA Tournament, announced Tuesday afternoon he is transferring.

He's the fourth Michigan player to transfer this offseason, following Spike Albrecht, who announced earlier Tuesday he will play his final season at Purdue; Ricky Doyle; and Aubrey Dawkins, who will play for his father, Johnny, at Central Florida.

"I honestly don't think I could have had a more quality life experience than I did in Ann Arbor," Chatman said in a release sent out by UM. "I am incredibly grateful for my two years at Michigan. I would like to thank Coach (John) Beilein and his entire staff for taking a chance on a small town kid out of Portland.

"I know my experience has inspired others as I will take all of my lessons learned to continue my pursuit of becoming the best man and player I can."

Per NCAA rules, Chatman, like Doyle and Dawkins, will have to sit out the 2016-17 season. If they transfer to a Big Ten school, they will lose a year of eligibility.

Albrecht can play right away and won't lose a year of eligibility, because he's a graduate transfer.

"Kam is a wonderful young man with the potential to mature into a fine college player," Beilein said. "We have enjoyed coaching him over the past two years and wish him nothing but the best."

Albrecht headed to Purdue; Chatman reportedly transferring

Chatman, a 6-foot-8, 215-pound sophomore swingman, averaged 15.2 minutes as a freshman, a workload necessitated by Michigan's always-growing list of injuries. He started 15 games, and played in every game.

With Michigan getting healthier this past season, Chatman struggled to find the floor, averaged just 7.2 minutes over 28 games, including just two starts.

While he has the knack for making 3s, his subpar defense was the issue that limited his minutes. He tried to downplay his disappointment during the season, when asked about the minutes, saying he was always ready when Beilein called his number. And there were flashes of goodness along the way.

“Coach has really been emphasizing the next man up,” Chatman said back in February. “Just the next-man-up mentality for everyone.”

He wasn't just next-man up in the Big Ten tournament. He made himself the big man on campus.

Late in a nail-biting game against regular-season champion Indiana on March 11, Derrick Walton Jr. took the ball up the court slowly and looked to be planning to take the last shot.

But he passed up one look, and another, then saw an open man in the corner -- an open man Walton later said he thought was Dawkins, who was on the bench. It was little-used Chatman, who was stunned to get the ball, too. But he had no choice but to shoot, and he drained the 3 right in front of the Michigan bench to send the Wolverines to a shocking 72-69 victory over the Hoosiers.

That proved, two days later, to be the signature win Michigan needed to get into the NCAA Tournament. When the bracket was released online during the Sunday Selection Show, Michigan found itself in the play-in game -- and later, Chatman found himself on the receiving end of a slew of hugs, from coaches and teammates.

Michigan beat Tulsa in the play-in game, but lost to Notre Dame in the opening round in New York.

For his two-year career at Michigan, Chatman averaged 3.2 points.

Michigan now has two open scholarships, if it chooses to use them. Beilein is actively searching for some bulk, as the point guard position is set with Walton and incoming freshman Xavier Simpson.

This has been an offseason of change for Michigan (23-12 this past season), which also lost two assistant coaches to head-coach jobs elsewhere -- Bacari Alexander to Detroit and LaVall Jordan to Milwaukee. Beilein seems to be well down the road toward hiring their replacements.

tpaul@detroitnews.com

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