UK Men's Basketball

Chapman's son doubtful for tourney

Twenty-four years after Rex Chapman created a buzz at the King of the Bluegrass, his son Zeke figured to do the same at Fairdale's annual basketball tournament this week.

But it looks doubtful that Zeke will get to follow in his dad's footsteps, at least this year, because of an injury.

Zeke, a 6-foot-2 junior guard at Scottsdale (Ariz.) Chaparral, had ankle surgery in early September and has been practicing for only a few weeks. He tweaked his ankle a few days ago, and sat out Chaparral's opening game in the King of the Bluegrass on Thursday night.

Rex Chapman, in a telephone interview, said his son is disappointed that he probably won't get to play at Fairdale.

"Zeke's had this date circled on his calendar for the last couple of months," Rex said. "I remember what it was like being that young and having to miss something that exciting.

"He's kind of torn up about it. I hope (tournament director) Lloyd Gardner invites them back next year."

Rex Chapman made a memorable appearance in the 1985 King of the Bluegrass. Then a 6-4 senior at Apollo and rated one of the top high school players in the nation, he had signed with the University of Kentucky the month before. When Apollo played Southern in the first round at Fairdale, the gym was packed with 2,200 fans, and 700 more had to be turned away.

"I was a kid, and probably wasn't aware of half of what was going on around me," he said. "You just go play basketball and just feel like one of the guys on the team."

Has he given his son advice on how to deal with the distractions?

"Zeke's grown up around basketball," Rex said. "He was running around the locker room when I was playing in Phoenix (with the Suns), so he's been around the game and pretty good players as long as he can remember.

"That's probably given him a little advantage on how to handle things, and I don't know if there's a whole lot more I could tell him."

Watching Zeke play, Rex see some similarities between him and his son, besides looking a lot alike.

"He's his own player, but every now and then he'll do something where I'll do a double-take.

"He can really shoot the ball, and is probably a better shooter than I was. He's got a chance to be a good basketball player."

Zeke averaged 15 points and four assists as a sophomore, and is drawing notice from Division I colleges.

While Rex drew national attention when he was at Apollo, it was tame compared to the scrutiny today's high school players get from a ramped-up media.

"It is different, with all the different ratings, bloggers and Web sites," Rex said. "They start rating kids when they're in middle school. That's just silly to me.

"Even sophomores and juniors are like 2- and 3-year-old colts running at Churchill Downs. They can change overnight, literally. They can grow up and mature in a matter of weeks, so it seems silly to try to find the next whoever."

Besides keeping up with his son's basketball development, Chapman is watching UK's young team develop under John Calipari.

"I was in Lexington a couple of months ago when John was able to get them on the court all together for the first time," said Chapman, who is vice president/player personnel for the NBA's Denver Nuggets.

"To watch where they were then and where they are now, it's pretty amazing. And they still have a long way to go and improve.

"John Wall is phenomenal. Without a doubt he's one of the best young players ever to come in there. He's poised, and he's obviously got athletic skills. He's terrific."

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