Chatman hosts basketball fundamentals camp

Published 12:10 am Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Montrel Chatman helps 12-year-old Kaleab Robinson with his basketball stance during the H-Town Next Level fundamentals camp at the Boys & Girls Club gym Monday morning. (Ben Hillyer \ The Natchez Democrat)

NATCHEZ — Frank Chatman returned to Natchez with a basketball in hand and a heart to teach children the game — and life lessons.

The former South Natchez High School basketball player and current pastor at Open Doors Life Church in Houston brought his basketball camp to the local Boy’s & Girls Club Monday. Chatman has hosted his H-Town Next Level fundamentals camp in Houston for the past 15 years and said he wanted to branch out to his native town.

“I just wanted to give back to the community,” Chatman said. “I want to do a camp that can be edifying and affordable to community.”

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The camp will continue through Wednesday, and Chatman said his focus is fundamentals, from the basics to advanced basketball skills.

“It’s all about knowing how to play the game,” Chatman said. “A lot of kids just go out and shoot, and there’s a difference between playing street ball and playing the game the right way. As they get older, they’re going to want to try out for teams, and everything will be more structured.”

Giving players the right basketball mindset is also something Chatman focuses on at his camps.

“You have to have a positive attitude,” Chatman said. “This is a game that you can get emotional playing, and you have to have a good attitude and good sportsmanship.”

Chatman’s nephew, P.J. Chatman, said he’s glad his uncle brought the camp to Natchez.

“I was happy for him to start a camp so he could get experience and help more children with basketball,” P.J. said.

P.J. also said he was impressed with his uncle’s ability to connect to the campers.

“His patience with kids (makes him a good coach),” P.J. said. “He’s willing to help them with anything when they’re trying to learn, and he challenges everyone.”

After playing for head coach Mike Martin at South Natchez, Chatman went on to play two years at Copiah-Lincoln Community College and two years at Mississippi College. He played his entire college career under head coach Mike Jones, who moved with Chatman to Mississippi College.

Following his college career, Chatman played professionally overseas in Portugal. After his professional career, Chatman said he felt like God called him to the ministry — and basketball became an outlet for that.

“I let my light shine,” Chatman said. “I’ve spent almost 20 years in the ministry, and I can tell people how God’s changed my life and how He’s making a difference. I tell the kids to always put God first.”

Because of basketball’s popularity, Chatman said opportunities to host his camp and coach an AAU basketball team in Houston is a blessing to him.

“It’s always been one of our most popular sports in this country,” Chatman said. “In a lot of the low-poverty areas, all kids can do is play basketball. It’s a sport you can take and use to get a free education, and maybe go ever further.”

For more information on the camp, call 601-597-7216 or 601-392-1714, or e-mail