Weber State has a solid returning core, but all eyes will be on ex-Ute Brekkott Chapman

Season preview • Wildcat coach Randy Rahe believes the transfer will be productive in Big Sky, especially after offseason knee surgery <br>

Trent Nelson | The Salt Lake Tribune Stanford Cardinal forward Michael Humphrey (10), Utah Utes forward Brekkott Chapman (0) and Stanford Cardinal guard Dorian Pickens (11) look for the rebound on a free throw as the University of Utah hosts Stanford, NCAA basketball at the Huntsman Center in Salt Lake City, Saturday January 30, 2016.

Randy Rahe always seems to find a way to reload.

When Damian Lillard left for NBA stardom, the Weber State Wildcats coach found another gem in Joel Bolomboy. When he, too, was drafted, the scoring of Jeremy Senglin helped ease the pain.

As he prepares for this season, the veteran coach doesn’t want to put too much pressure on any one of his guys to shoulder that load now.

“We don’t ever really look at it and say this is the guy,” Rahe said. “We try to do it by committee.”

Season opener<br>Utah State at Weber State<br>When • Friday, 7 p.m.<br>TV • None.

It would not, however, upset the coach too much if forward Brekkott Chapman led that committee.

The 6-foot-9 forward spent last season watching from the sidelines after transferring to Weber from the University of Utah.

“He doesn’t have to feel like he’s got to score 22 points a game,” Rahe said. “But we do feel like he’s going to come in and be productive.”

The 21-year-old Chapman was highly recruited after starring at Roy High School but never really found his place after committing to Utah. Chapman averaged just 4.4 points per game as a sophomore for the Utes. After deciding to transfer, Chapman ended up moving back home Weber County in search of a fresh start.

Trent Nelson | The Salt Lake Tribune Weber State coach Randy Rahe, as BYU faces Weber State, NCAA basketball at Vivant Smart Home Arena in Salt Lake City, Saturday December 5, 2015.

“It’s right in his backyard,” Rahe said. “He’s got a lot of people here that are going to support him and come to games.”

And the forward has the skills to make a major impact for the Wildcats this year.

“He’s always been a really skilled player, and the game has come really easy to him in a lot of ways,” Rahe said. “He’s got skill with his ball handling and worked hard on his shot. He’s tightened up his stroke a little bit, and added some strength to his body.”

Chapman had surgery last fall to help clean up a nagging knee injury, but during the procedure doctors realized the injury was worse. In the end, the forward had to be sidelined for about three months, but his coach believes it will benefit him in the long run.

“Ever since he’s gotten back, I’ve been really, really happy with him,” Rahe said. “He’s worked his tail off, living in the gym.”

Chapman will get help from veterans such as junior big man Zach Braxton and senior guard Dusty Baker, as well as newcomers like freshman center Michal Kozak.

“The biggest thing is he’s really embraced our culture,” he said. “We told him this is how we do things. You’re going to play for our teammates. If you can’t do that, don’t come. And he has completely bought in.”

Weber State men’s basketball outlook<br>Key Returnees • Junior big man Zach Braxton averaged 10.1 points and 6 rebounds a game last year. Senior guards Ryan Richardson and Dusty Baker will also look to pick up some of the scoring load.<br>Key losses • Guard Jeremy Senglin led the Wildcats with 21.1 points per game as a senior last season.<br>Outlook • After finishing third in the Big Sky last year, the Wildcats are looking to get back on top — and back to the NCAA tournament for the third time since 2014

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