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With love and pizza, Brekkott Chapman is soaring
Family-focused Brekkott Chapman is attracting national attention.

By Christopher Kamrani The Salt Lake Tribune

Published July 29, 2013 2:11 pm
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
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Roy • The sun peeks into the living room through the apartment's sliding glass doors. Slices of rays cut across the two boys, their faces tattooed with grins they were told to put on through years of family photos.

Kim Littlefield rocks in her reclining chair. The boys are hers. One is noticeably older, his rounded afro framing his smile. The younger son looks elated in every photo, expounding on the essence of this family.

The chair continues to rock as Littlefield attempts to delineate the path the trio has taken, of how her eldest son, 17-year-old Brekkott Chapman, morphed from an awkward, lanky teen into a high school basketball sensation wrought with rare skills for a growing 6-foot-8 build.

It's been a year since the first recruiting letter was dropped off at their Roy apartment last June. Now Chapman, a soon-to-be senior at Roy High School, is playing in tournaments and showcases fit only for the nation's top high school talents, for those who are lined up for stardom.

"I've believed from when he was young that he would be able to get into college with basketball," Littlefield said, "but it's been almost overwhelming."

The Pangos All-American Camp in June, followed by the NBAP Top 100 camp in Virginia two weeks later. Then came a camp in Southern California presented by UnderArmour in which 32 of the top high school players in the country were invited to play in front of NBA scouts.

Brekkott Chapman has starred at every one and could be on the cusp of a nationwide kaboom — if he so desires.

"He's going to be a guy who's going to be recruited heavily from every major conference if he wants to," said ESPN.com scout Reggie Rankin, who already has seen Chapman twice this summer. "I think he'll just get to the point where he'll be able to do anything he wants."

In a matter of 12 months, Chapman has gone from opening his initial recruiting letter to being dubbed one of the most sought-after recruits out West and possibly in the country.

Welcome home

When the keys jingle outside the door, Troy Littlefield's reaction is to load his hind legs and prepare to spring. All 6-foot-8 of Brekkott Chapman walks through the front door of the apartment a half-mile from Roy High School, and Troy, 7, is already climbing.

Chapman's half-brother is the family spark plug, rattling off questions for his big brother in such quick succession that Chapman has a hard time retaining each one. Video games, swimming plans, stuffed animals — it's all thrust onto the older brother following an open gym session with some local high school teammates.

Kim Littlefield welcomes in her son, stands up from her reclining chair and gives Brekkott Chapman a kiss on the cheek.

It's always been them. Littlefield was 24 when Chapman was born. She raised him. She taught him to play basketball. Chapman's father played football at Weber State but rarely was present. He lives in Las Vegas as a professional boxer, Littlefield says.

Chapman walks down the narrow hallway toward his bedroom, and a sea of basketball sneakers flood out of his closet onto his bedroom floor. He says the relationship with his father "is not there." And that's fine with him. It has created a fuel of sorts for the Roy star. He's seen his mom struggle. She worked multiple jobs for years.

"I've watched my mom grow up," Chapman said. "Now that I'm to the stage where she's still working and still has to work, I'm going to work just as hard as I can in order to help her."

Pizza, crushed cans and garage sales

Chapman needed help to have the opportunity to showcase his tremendous skill set, his suddenly deadeye left-handed jumper and his awareness on the court. AAU basketball costs money, and in order to get to the tournaments as he has over the past four years with Utah Prospects, the family got creative.

As in pizzas. Chapman has sold pizzas — 144 of them in May alone this year — to get a head start on the costs. He's collected crushed aluminum cans from family friends and neighbors to take to the local recycling center since he was in fourth grade.

Then there are the garage sales held in grandma and grandpa's Roy cul-de-sac. Various items have been sold, and proceeds have gone to Chapman. And there has been more than just one garage sale this summer.

"It makes you realize that you have to work for everything that you do," he said.

He's become somewhat of a neighborhood sensation. The garage sales have been popular simply for the fact that it's been a direct deposit to Brekkott's AAU funds, furthering his opportunity to play with some of the state's top prep stars as well as furthering his name on the national recruiting scale.

"He's worked a lot of that on his own, and a lot of that is a testament to him," Utah Prospects coach Lynn Lloyd said. "His mother and grandparents have helped him. They're a good backdrop for him also."

Sitting in a chair in her family room, Sharon Price acknowledges the consistent beam of light they've been to their first grandchild, Brekkott. They've seen him grow from a 3-year-old boy playing catch in that same room to being the subject of phone calls from schools and coaches in all corners of the country.

"He puts a lot of pressure on himself to be the best, to be one of the top ones in high school basketball," she said. "Anytime he can put a ball in his hand, that's what he does."

The facilitator

It's varsity open gym at Roy High School, and Brekkott Chapman is deferring. He's running with a cast that's mostly underclassmen, kids who already looked up to him.

They watch him in awe.

It's 4-on-4 full-court, and Chapman calls out screens and reads the game like it was a state playoff game. He wants the youngsters to be confident and to shoot when they're open. Forward Blake Lamb bodies up Chapman, but Lamb gives him too much room.

He sees a crease and inches toward it. Breaking toward the hoop, the weak-side defenders crash, but rather than dunk or draw a foul, Chapman lasers a pass to a wide-open teammate in the corner.

"Shoot!" Chapman commands. "You got this."

The kid does. He drains the shot.

Leaning up against the padding behind the hoop is Roy coach Dan McClure. It's been a while since he's seen Chapman. The summer season is AAU season, and Chapman pings around various states for high-profile tournaments in May, June and July.

McClure watches Lamb body up Chapman again. This time Chapman wants the ball. He wants a shot. After facing up Lamb along the sideline, he goes to the post. He feels Lamb's weight cemented into the hardwood.

Spinning left from 18 feet away, Chapman's flick of the left wrist is effortless.

McClure laughs.

"When this whole recruiting thing started, I thought it could go one of two directions with him: When the offers started rolling in, he could've been content and see this is as exciting or he could've said to himself, 'I wonder how good I can become?'

"Fortunately," McClure said, "he's chosen the latter."

Players ask Chapman to show off his dunking ability. They form matching lines outside the 3-point line. He takes requests. He walks back to the center of the court and eyes the hoop.

In a dead-sprint toward the rim, Brekkott Chapman jumps from inside the free-throw line, cocks back his left hand and gives the youngsters something to talk about.

Decisions, decisions

Dennis Price remembers the days when his grandson couldn't dunk. The pair stared upward at an orange rim and Price told Chapman that one day he'd be above it.

"When he couldn't reach the ceiling," Price said, "he was always reaching up."

Now that Chapman is above and beyond the hoop, the decision is next on the list.

Does he really want to go away? Would his best option be to stay closer to home, to mom, to Troy, to grandma and grandpa and aunts Melissa and Patti?

The in-state offers from Utah, BYU and Utah State aside, Chapman also has Arizona, Arizona State and Gonzaga pursuing him. That could balloon as the AAU summer wears on and his game continues to garner interest.

He recently said his top three — in no particular order — include Utah, BYU and UCLA, where he held an offer from before Steve Alford took over the program. An official offer from the new Bruin regime could come at any time.

"I want him to go where he wants to go," Kim Littlefield said. "We're close enough to where he can go across the country, and we'll be OK."

Chapman said he is close enough with his mother and grandparents that his decision would be supported and get zero backlash. He talks about the advances of technology and how his phone's battery life would be seriously tested with all the probable FaceTime chats if he did leave the state.

There is a caveat.

"The hardest thing about leaving this state would be leaving my little brother," Chapman said. "That would be hard. Staying home would be really nice."

Piles of recruiting letters sit unopened at the Price residence. A few weeks back, Purdue called Sharon Price asking for the correct pronunciation of her grandson's first name. Chapman doesn't respond to texts and calls from coaches like he used to.

"Sometimes he just looks like he's beat," Sharon Price said.

"I think the decision is weighing on him heavily, and I don't know if it's affecting his play, but I know it's affecting him daily," Lynn Lloyd said.

Ideally, he'll choose sometime before his senior year starts. There isn't a firm date — yet.

"If I feel there's a school I want to go to," Chapman said, "there's no reason in putting it off."

Battle of focus

The daily battle is keeping Brekkott Chapman on the ground, both on the basketball court and at home.

The bar he's set for himself is hard to imagine. Conversations with mom about eventually taking care of everything, of how his education or potential professional basketball career will abolish the evenings that now end in frustration over bills and work shifts.

Sharon and Dennis Price have told their grandson to cool it. He went as far as saying he'll be the one to buy them a brand-new house, replacing the same one they've lived in the last 41 years.

"He keeps asking me, 'Grandma, do you want to live here the rest of your life? And I tell him, 'Yep, I'm content here,' " Dennis Price said.

"It's the way I've always lived so far," Chapman said. "It's just life."

Littlefield fights it on a daily basis, reminding her son that he must focus on what will make his pursuits — whether it be educational or on the basketball court — worthwhile.

"The only thing you have total control over in this world is yourself," she said. "I've always tried to teach him that; you can't control what people say about you, you can't control the ref's calls. The only thing you can control is how you react in situations. Since he was little, that's what I've tried to instill."

Sharon Price uses any chance she gets in a one-on-one environment to leave him feeling like a normal teen. There was the time she picked him up from school and took him to Del Taco, where he devoured 12 tacos before pulling into the driveway.

Dennis Price provides his input, too. Their relationship is special. Price has been Chapman's father figure, but he has given his grandson enough respect and room to grow that when he tells his grandfather that he's the man of the house, Dennis Price's face scrunches and his eyes well up.

"It's his feeling for people," Price said. "That's what sets him apart."

Past, present and future

Brekkott Chapman is warming up, prepping for a game against region rival Logan in Cache Valley. He is loose, ready to go.

Then he notices something. He sees his great-grandmother Hilda struggling to climb the stairs in the bleachers. Chapman darts toward her in a flash. He gently picks her up and carries her up the stairs to her seat.

It's a gift, his family explains. He sees things he shouldn't and acts on those feelings of love and passion in a split second.

Sitting in their family room, each family member who helped raise Brekkott Chapman spills his or her favorite stories. Of the time he was caught doing cannonballs off the roof into the pool, or the time he had to inform the University of Colorado and the University of San Francisco he no longer was interested.

He wrote a script. Nerves crept into his stomach and his mind. His voice cracked on the phone when he delivered the news. Sweat formed and began to drip profusely.

Folks are starting to notice his talent, and with that, who he is — the kid who sells pizzas and collects cans and devours strawberries at an astonishing rate and exchanges jokes with friends on Twitter.

"It just gets to the point where it drags on a little bit, but it's attention I'd rather have than not have," he said.

Brekkott Chapman is a people-pleaser. To him, every person in his inner circle deserves nothing but the best, thus driving him to continually refine.

But it is there, a commitment waiting to be made and a future to meet. The coming weeks and months will become more strenuous and pressing.

"That final decision," Kim Littlefield said, "that's going to be really tough. I'm not looking forward to that."

Brekkott Chapman has to. He will have to make it for himself.

ckamrani@sltrib.com

Twitter: @chriskamrani —

Brekkott Chapman

Age • 17

Height • 6-foot-8

Position • Forward

High school • Roy

Class • 2014

AAU team • Utah Prospects

Offers • Utah, BYU, Utah State, Arizona, Arizona State, Gonzaga, UCLA

Commitment • Undecided

Summer camps/showcases • Pangos All-American Camp, NBAP Top 100, UnderArmour Undeniable Grind Session —

What they say about him ...

Mother, Kim Littlefield • "I remember the first basketball game he ever played in when he was 5 years old. Once the game was over, he came over to me crying. I kept asking him what was wrong and he said, 'I didn't get to touch the ball once.' "

Grandmother, Sharon Price • "Sometimes I think if he stays in-state, we can go to all the games we want if he stays at home. But he worries about his mom because it's been so tight. He puts a lot of pressure on himself to be the best and one of the top ones in basketball."

Grandfather, Dennis Price • "After a ballgame, he always picks up his little brother and they hug. Sometimes, he's just like anyone else ... sometimes you just don't want to talk, but, before the night's out, everybody gets a hug."

Utah prospects coach, Lynn Lloyd • "An endearing quality of him is he's a people-pleaser. It's very important to him to please the people in his inner circle. He wants everyone to be included, which is a good quality."

Roy coach, Dan McClure • "I think he's starting to figure out just how good he can be."

ESPN.com scout, Reggie Rankin • "You've got to mention him on the scouting report. If I was a college coach at a major school in search of a combo forward, I'd be killing myself to get him."



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