As a 6-foot-9 starting center for the Roos, it may seem easy for Fred Chatmon to keep his head in the clouds. Instead, he is humble and down-to-earth, on and off the court.
Chatmon’s modest, hard-working mentality stems from being a middle child in a very large family.
“I played football at first,” he said. “Then I started getting tall, and so I started playing ball.”
He began playing on an organized basketball team in the 10th grade.
“That was when I started figuring stuff out and playing with referees,” he said. “I played on the streets, but as far as organized basketball, I was late.”
Now a junior, Chatmon joined the Roos in 2009 after graduating from Garfield Heights High School in Cleveland. He was ranked the 56th best player in Ohio.
He made a big impact off the bench as a freshman, scoring eight points in his debut. However, Chatmon took a medical redshirt in the 2010-11 season because of an injury.
“I cracked my kneecap,” he said. “And that’s all bone. It took [a while] for the bone to heal. It started healing, but it never fully healed I tried to come back too fast, was working out too hard doing extra stuff, and it cracked again.
“I had to get two surgeries on my knee. This caused my body to become uneven. My strength in my left leg was stronger than in my right leg.”
Despite scoring a career-high 10 points against Indianapolis in last season’s final game, Chatmon was still a long way from full recovery.
“I wasn’t even healthy last year,” he said. “I couldn’t even lift 100 pounds on my right leg. I really shouldn’t have been playing. But I feel great now. This is the best I’ve felt since high school.”
Now that his knee is healthy, Chatmon is showcasing why he is a valuable big man.
He started the season as a reserve in the team’s blowout loss to Seton Hall and came away with nine points and eight rebounds in only 18 minutes.,He has started every game since and leads the Roos with a season total of 30 rebounds.
“I feel like I really didn’t play that well,” Chatmon said of the Seton Hall game. “That’s what I am supposed to do. When I am healthy, I know what I can do. So it was just another game to me. I felt like I should’ve done more.”
Chatmon is fond of the gritty, grind-it-out style of old-school basketball as opposed to the flash-and-finesse style of modern-day players.
“I like Julius Erving, Bob McAdoo, James Worthy,” he said. “I like the old-school game more than the new-school game. It looked more aggressive and it was a lot more passion in it. So I polish my game after the old-school players. It was more about the game than money.”
With only one full season left as a Roo, Chatmon has been thinking about his life after college.
“Of course I want to go pro after college,” Chatmon said. “I’ll play overseas or wherever my body takes me. I’ll play for a few years or however long it takes to stack up the money to build my business.”
While most Division I basketball players daydream about the NBA, the ever-humble big man for the Roos is just waiting to trade in his blue-and-gold jersey for a tool belt and blue collar.
“I’m a business major, so of course I want to start my own company,” he said. “I’m more of a handyman, so if I could do landscaping, bricklaying, snowplowing or something like that, I’ll be good.”