MEN’S BASKETBALL: Division I-caliber: 5A state MVP Chatman 10th Seahawk signee for 2018-19

Published 8:12 pm Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Kenneth Coleman spent three seasons coaching Darion Chatman, working with the Port Arthur Memorial guard on playing the game with a controlled passion.

“He and I are a lot alike,” Coleman said. “I’m a very emotional, high-strung, animated guy. Sometimes, on the sidelines and even in practice, it looks like we’re bumping heads.”

Coleman even considered benching Chatman for three-plus periods in the UIL 5A boys basketball state final, of all games.

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“He only knows how to play one way — hard,” Coleman said, adding he told Chatman he would stay seated if he didn’t listen.

Chatman had two personal fouls in 8 minutes of the first half and scored only four points as Memorial trailed Justin Northwest 36-33. As the game wore without him, though, Coleman reconsidered his teaching moment.

“I decided this might not be the best time to teach him a lesson,” he said.

Chatman then went on a personal 10-2 rally by attacking the basket against a Northwest team battling foul trouble, turning momentum around in the Titans’ 75-69 victory on March 10 in San Antonio.

The state tournament MVP performance helped Chatman land a scholarship with Lamar State College Port Arthur, capping a recruiting process that surprisingly netted him only one offer from a Division I program.

“It was kind of downing because I thought I was going to get all these D-I’s,” he said. “I didn’t get any the first week, and I let that slide. Two weeks, I let that slide. And, I was like, wow.”

He became the third Titan and 10th overall to sign with Lamar State for next season, joining point guard Jamyus Jones and small forward Thailan Wesley.

Said Chatman: “That’s a big thing not only for the team. It’s a good thing for the city. They can come see us play. We’re going to try to bring a ring again.”

And Coleman — who accepted the head coaching position at Humble Summer Creek last month — made his final mark on the program by establishing an inner-city pipeline to Port Arthur’s junior college.

“We do this to get the kids to the next level,” Coleman said. “It’s one of the most important things we do. There are a lot of successful programs that don’t win a state championship. I think a lot of people miss that sometimes. If you can get them to the next level — prepared — you’ve done what you’re supposed to do.”

Chatman made just one visit to Blinn College before settling on the Seahawks. Mississippi Valley State was the only Division I program to present Chatman with a scholarship.

“They showed a lot of love,” Chatman said of the Seahawks. “It’s no better place than home, honestly.”

The third Titan to join Lamar State this year also ranks pretty highly in Coleman’s book outside the lines.

“He’s the best kid I ever met off the court,” Coleman said, recalling a cancer walk in honor of a friend Chatman and Jones stayed for the entire time. “… And he likes school.”

Wesley and Jones officially committed to Lamar State on April 24 — two days before Coleman took the Summer Creek position. That same day, Jaden Edward of Lafayette, Louisiana, also inked with the Seahawks.

The program also landed Byron Arceneaux of Beaumont Central earlier in April.

“It’s very good talent in the area, and we were fortunate to find some guys that we felt like could accomplish our goals at Lamar State,” Seahawks coach Lance Madison said. “We’re tickled to death. We think all four are going to be contributors and make an instant impact in our program.”

Tuesday’s signing ceremony comes two days before the Port Arthur ISD plans to name Coleman’s replacement at its regular board meeting.

I.C. Murrell: 721-2435. Twitter: @ICMurrellPANews

About I.C. Murrell

I.C. Murrell was promoted to editor of The News, effective Oct. 14, 2019. He previously served as sports editor since August 2015 and has won or shared eight first-place awards from state newspaper associations and corporations. He was born in Memphis, Tennessee, grew up mostly in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, and graduated from the University of Arkansas at Monticello.

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