Sons of famous Cats excel on the court

Minniefield, Chapman excel

jtipton@herald-leader.comJune 18, 2010 

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. — If you look closely into their eyes, you start to see the resemblance to famous basketball fathers. Sons of two former University of Kentucky stars are among the 100 top high school prospects invited to the NBA Players Association-sponsored Top 100 Camp at the University of Virginia.

The two are Darin Minniefield (son of former UK point guard Dirk Minniefield) and Zeke Chapman (son of former UK icon Rex Chapman).

Each son had seen plenty of video of his father's basketball exploits.

Darin Minniefield, a point guard like his father, saw the video as an instructional tool. "He's always showing me film, showing me what to do, helping me with my point guard skills," the younger Minniefield said of his father, who played for UK from 1979-83.

While Zeke Chapman simply marveled, as UK fans used to do, at his father's athletic ability.

"He definitely jumped better than I do," he said of his father, who played at UK from 1986-88. "He was really great to watch. I've watched all his high school games. It was really cool."

Neither Darin Minniefield, who will be a ninth-grader in the next school year, nor Zeke Chapman, a senior to be, has inherited his father's size.

The younger Minniefield is listed at 6-foot, 135 pounds at this camp. "When he was this age, he was this size," he said of his father.

Chapman is listed at 6-foot-1, or about four inches shorter than his father.

When a reporter facetiously asked if he'd already had his growth spurt, Zeke Chapman laughed and said, "I don't know. I hope not. But if I have, then that's fine."

That's because Zeke Chapman sees himself as a point guard. Or as he put it, "a facilitator" rather than a high-flying scorer like his father.

As for the pressure of living up to a high-profile father's reputation, Darin Minniefield said he concentrated on simply playing basketball.

Zeke Chapman acknowledged the pressure that comes with a famous father.

"Sometimes it's a lot of pressure," he said. 'But I don't think it gets to me that much."

But his father thinks about it. Between sessions of the camp on Thursday, Rex Chapman expressed the relief that he and his son do not live in Kentucky. They live in Scottsdale, Ariz.

"It is good we don't live right there in Kentucky where it (would be) a burden to him to have that last name," the elder Chapman said. "He can be himself. He's turning into a really good version of himself. I'm proud of him."

As for their basketball futures, Zeke Chapman is considering San Francisco and Oklahoma State. A few mid-major schools have also shown interest.

When asked if he wished big-time schools were in the recruiting race, Chapman said, "Nah. Anywhere I can play (is fine). I don't want to go to a school just for the name, and then sit on the bench. If I can go in and contribute, that would be great."

Rex Chapman noted that Arizona State had shown interest and that Stanford had invited his son to attend a camp later this year.

As for UK, his father's program has not expressed interest in Zeke. That's fine with his parents, especially mother Bridget.

"She just wants him to go some place and be happy," Rex Chapman said of his wife. As for the possibility of Zeke playing for Kentucky, Rex said, "She'd absolutely try to put her foot down on that one."

UK's history of father-son combinations — Eddie and Sean Sutton, Tubby and Saul Smith — has had rocky moments.

Even though a college decision is four years away, Darin Minniefield said he thinks a lot about that next level. Kentucky, Texas and Connecticut loom large in his thoughts.

"That's all I think about," he said. "What am I going to major in? Where I'm going to go to college. What's going to be the best college for me."

For a while, Darin Minniefield had no interest in Kentucky. He was born and raised in Houston. The state of Kentucky? "It's just a different state to me," he said. "There's nothing really special about it."

Darin also balked at the idea of following his father's footsteps. "I wanted to set my own goals, be something else, be something different," he said. "Not just being Dirk's son, but being Darin Minniefield."

Dirk Minniefield supported his son. "He feels great about that," Darin said. "He thinks that's a smart move to make."

Then Darin Minniefield changed his mind after John Calipari revitalized Kentucky basketball.

"I like their style," Darin Minniefield said. "It has nothing to do with (Dirk)."

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