Interview conducted by Chris Monter
Sophomore Taison Chatman of Fridley (MN) Totino-Grace is considered the top player in the state of Minnesota in the Class of 2023.
Chatman helped lead the Eagles to a 16-5 mark, losing to Minnehaha Academy 73-60 in the Class AAA, Section 4 finals, despite leading by 15 points in the first half.
Chatman averaged 12.6 points as he scored in double figures in 14 of 20 games this season, including a season-best 24 points versus Maple Grove in the season opener. The Eagles will also return junior Demarion Watson and fellow sophomore C.J. O’Hara and will be among the top candidates for the Class AAA tournament next March.
GopherHole caught up with Chatman Tuesday evening after D1 Minnesota to learn the latest about his recruitment and offer from the Gophers.
GopherHole: You guys have played in two events. How pleased are you with how well you are playing as a team so far? I know that you got off to a bit of a slow start in Chicago, but played really well this past weekend in Kansas City.
Taison Chatman: I think the first weekend, our chemistry wasn’t good. I think as the season goes on, we’ll get better chemistry and we’ll start playing together and trust each other more.
GopherHole: Obviously, you have couple of teammates who aren’t nearby, so maybe it is a little harder to get everyone together for practices. Do you think that helped that you guys were able to get together this past week and work out some the things that you didn’t show the first week?
Taison Chatman: Them coming once a week is pretty hard to kind of build chemistry with them, but when we go out of town, we try to hang out as much as possible to build chemistry and I think when we build chemistry off the court, it translates to on the court and that is why we had a good weekend last week.
GopherHole: How about this past season at Totino-Grace? How pleased were you with how well you played as a team?
Taison Chatman: I was pleased. It didn’t end how we wanted it to. We lost to Minnehaha in the section championship, but there was a lot of positive takeaways from this season and hopefully, next year, we’ll improve more as a team.
GopherHole: Did you watch the state tournament?
Taison Chatman: Yes.
GopherHole: Was it tough to watch Minnehaha since they rolled through everybody and you were maybe their toughest competition that they had?
Taison Chatman: It was real tough watching them, knowing that we could be out there, trying to win a state title.
GopherHole: How many starters do you have back for next year?
Taison Chatman: 3.
GopherHole: What is it going to take to get over that hump and get to the state tournament and what will it mean to get there for you?
Taison Chatman: It will mean everything. That is one of my biggest goals, in my high school career, is to win a state tournament. If I do that, that will be big.
GopherHole: What is the latest on your recruitment? How many offers are you up to right now?
Taison Chatman: I still only have four right now. Minnesota, Marquette, Iowa and Iowa State.
GopherHole: A couple of those schools had coaching changes like Marquette and Iowa State. Did those schools re-offer you as well?
Taison Chatman: Yes. They all reached out and I still have the offers.
GopherHole: Does that make you feel good that even though they have had some changes at those two schools with coaches that haven’t been there too long, but they reached out to you pretty quickly ?
Taison Chatman: Yes. At first, I was kind of on edge, because I didn’t know if my offer was still there, but as soon as the coaches got there they reached out to me and re-offered me.
GopherHole: I know that Minnesota, obviously also had a coaching change, but I know that Ben reached out to you pretty quickly. What was that conversation like?
Taison Chatman: He didn’t reach out to me. He reached out to my dad and he told my dad.
GopherHole: Obviously, since you are still so young, you can’t always talk to the coaches yet. What are you expecting when that changes?
Taison Chatman: I think that coaches can start contacting me in June, so I think that in June, my recruitment will take off to another level.
GopherHole: Have people told you that it is probably going to get crazy and that you are going to get a lot of calls and texts?
Taison Chatman: My high school coach, he always says that I am going to hate recruitment, because I am kind of like an introvert and I don’t like talking to people I don’t know. He says that I am going to hate it, because I’ll get calls literally every minute of the day.
GopherHole: What things are you really going to work on this spring and summer to really improve yourself as a player?
Taison Chatman: This spring and summer, I’m just definitely going to try to get stronger, because that is my biggest weakness on the court and just work on all my weaknesses and try to get them stronger for the season.
GopherHole: What are you up to height and weight-wise right now?
Taison Chatman: I’m 6-4, 170 right now.
GopherHole: What were you at this time last year?
Taison Chatman: Last year, I think was 6-2 and 160.
GopherHole: Have you talked to your doctors about how much you might continue to grow?
Taison Chatman: They said that my growth plates are still open, so I might get a few more inches, so hopefully, I’m taller than my dad.
GopherHole: How tall is your dad again?
Taison Chatman: 6-5
GopherHole: Is he the main reason that you have the love for the game?
Taison Chatman: Yes. He introduced me to the game when I was really young and ever since then, he and my mom have been supporting me, chasing my dreams.
GopherHole: Where did he play ball?
Taison Chatman: In college, he played at Fergus Falls and Augsburg.
GopherHole: Have you always been pretty much a basketball player or did you play other sports growing up?
Taison Chatman: I have had interest in other sports, but basketball has always been the main one. I played football for one year, probably in fourth or fifth grade, but basketball has always been my first love, so I just stuck with it.
GopherHole: Obviously, Minnesota had a coaching change with Ben Johnson taking over. One of the emphasis that he has put out there is keeping in-state player in-state. What would it mean to maybe have the chance to play for the Gophers?
Taison Chatman: It would be big. Playing in front of my family and friends in the city I grew up in. It would be pretty cool, but right now, I’m not in a rush for anything. I’m just going to play this recruitment thing out and see how it goes.