Prep boys' basketball: Chapman, Roy AD share special bond
Roy • Brekkott Chapman's lanky body fills the doorway of the Roy athletic director's office, casting a long silhouette out into the hall behind him. He asks to use the printer.
After a slight pause, he enters and slides into a black leather office chair. Seated next to him is Roy athletic director and assistant basketball coach Mike Puzey.
All-state certificates of past Royal athletes line the upper portion of the walls of the white-brick office. The two of them sit underneath the names of these former Royal greats. Together they encompass Roy basketball's past, present and future.
On the right, Puzey, a skinny 6 foot 8, is wearing a yellow T-shirt and black basketball shorts. If you don't look too close, you might confuse him for a player. You wouldn't be wrong, not completely. He averaged 20 points and nine rebounds for Roy as a senior, but that was back during the 1995-1996 season. He went on to play at Utah and Utah State before playing for two years in Sweden.
But his day on the hardwood has passed.
For a decade and a half, Puzey has been the best basketball player Roy, which seldom yields Division I athletes, ever has produced. But if Chapman, who sits slumped in his chair, hasn't already displaced him, it seems certain he will.
"I want to pass it along," Puzey said. "I'd love for Brekkott to be the greatest basketball player that Roy High's ever seen."
Chapman, a 6-9 junior, has been dominant for the Royals for two seasons and is gaining national attention. In a recent ranking, ESPN tabbed him as the No. 48 recruit in the country for his class, and he holds scholarship offers from every major in-state program, as well as UCLA and a handful of other Pac-12 schools.
"The scary thing is, he's still got a long way to go to reach his potential," Puzey said.
What it will take for Chapman to reach that potential is something Puzey knows. He practiced every day of his redshirt season at Utah against Ute legend Keith Van Horn. "I still have the scars and broken bones from all the quadruple picks set for him," he said.
Van Horn was the No. 2 overall pick in the NBA draft following that season. Puzey knows what greatness looks like because he's stared in its face.
He also knows that success in high school doesn't guarantee anything. Experience has taught him even getting minutes at the next level is a struggle, even for players who dominate high school competition.
It is this, the price good players must pay to be great, that Puzey attempts to burn into Chapman's brain each day. It is why Puzey works with Chapman one-on-one daily. It is why he is tougher on Chapman in practice than any other player.
It is why he smiles when he sees Chapman alone in the gym working on a new post move after the rest of the team has left.
"On the staff, I'm the bad cop," Puzey said. "I realize how he's going to be pushed at the next level. But what I love about this kid is he responds to that."
Chapman grins when asked about the expectations Puzey has placed on him. He reads recruiting rankings. He knows where basketball may take him.
The greatness is there he can sense it. He wants to snatch it.
"Puzey pushing me helps me a lot because it makes me want to improve my game," Chapman said.
The first time Puzey saw Chapman play, which was in a junior high championship game, the potential immediately was visible. But he also saw a raw player, one who relied too much on his perimeter game when it was clear he'd overpower defenders in the post.
Three years later, Chapman's perimeter game still is strong, but he's almost impossible for high school players to guard down low. He has an arsenal of moves in the post, including a devastating baby hook, and he can finish near the hoop with either hand.
"My post game is 10 times better than it was coming into high school," Chapman said, attributing the credit to Puzey, who learned how to coach big men from his college coaches, Rick Majerus and Stew Morrill.
If Chapman has come this far since junior high, where will he be in a year and a half, when he has picked a college and is beginning the next stage of his career? Where will he be in three years? In four?
Puzey wonders these questions. They will be answered in time. For now, he will keep preparing Chapman for what comes next.
"The sky," he said, "really is the limit for him."
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