Her teammate Jenna Staiti said the Lady Bulldogs “don’t win without Chloe” in a big-name game, and the coaches echoed that sentiment. Not only that, but Chapman is a key cog in Georgia’s 7-0 start, which continued with a 66-56 victory at Texas Tech on Thursday.
âI really wanted this,â Chapman said. âEverything takes time and patience. I knew it would happen soon.
Chapman’s big day carried more weight than the typical evolutionary story seen in all sports, as that outcome implied a major decision. Chapman came to Georgia as a star of two sports with elite football and basketball skills. She had decided to play both sports throughout her career, but had to make a sacrifice to “pursue a dream” of playing professional basketball, she said.
If a soccer ball and basketball were placed in front of Chapman, she would pick up the orange rubber sphere every time, her father said. She has now been 100% devoted to her greatest love, and it was a choice that supported the Lady Bulldogs at the start of the season.
âShe sacrificed a lot to get back to us (full time),â Taylor said. “It is for this moment.”
Make the call
Once Chapman arrived in Athens, Taylor delivered a surprising verdict. Chapman would not split training time between the two sports, but instead would work fully with former coach Billy Lesesne’s football team and then come to basketball when it was over.
Taylor called it “where are your feet” and Chapman expresses his gratitude to his trainer two years after hearing those words.
âShe never made me feel pressured,â Chapman said.
Chapman, in a reserve role, became one of the top players in the soccer program during a period of rebuilding. She scored six freshman goals in 2019, and Lesesne called her contributions “a real gift.” She followed him with the honors of the varsity athlete of the year by the Atlanta Sports Awards in 2020 for playing both sports.
“She was always smiling and laughing and she brought good energy to the team,” said former Georgia football defender Kayla Bruster. “She meant a lot to us as a program.”
Chapman loved football. His extra job went to basketball and received a five-star perspective from ESPN. Erik said his daughter has never attended a football camp or a demonstration if it interferes with basketball. Her last memory of Chloe attending an extra football event was when she was 9 years old. Chapman had been doing the straddle since she was 5 when she started playing both sports, but it was not the same in Georgia as it was when she was a child.
She missed the start of Georgia’s basketball season. She missed significant offseason training and sessions to set up offensive and defensive patterns. His minutes and results suffered as well. In 2020, Chapman only played 14 basketball games for the Lady Bulldogs and only scored more than four points once.
âShe was frustrated because she felt late,â Staiti said. “It was amazing to see her balance, but not being completely here made it difficult.”
After the spring semester, Chapman returned home to Mitchellville, Md., And her family took frequent walks two to four miles around their residence. Chapman once told his parents and older sister Sydney about it. She was ready to become a full-time basketball player.
She wanted more of a basketball career, and that meant ending another pursuit.
âThere was too much overlap,â said Erik. âIf there had been football in the spring, the transition would have been much easier. “
Advantages of a preseason
The previous two offseason, the basketball program had Chapman available for summer practice. Taylor is expected to fire his high potential point guard on August 1. Chapman wouldn’t be back until after Thanksgiving.
That all changed ahead of the 2021-22 season, and it all started to fall into place for Chapman. Taylor said her third-year ball handler had “the wing” for two seasons, which she attributed to Chapman’s natural abilities, but now she has a good grasp of what the Lady Bulldogs are up to.
Georgia didn’t ask Chapman to manage a job that involved a handful of concepts to understand. They named Chapman as their playmaker of the future, which meant becoming an extension of Taylor on the pitch. Chapman experimented with the intricacies of defensive setup, the basic concepts of guarding treatment time, offensive scores and forfeits. Nothing she learned on a deep level playing both sports.
âIt was an eye opener for her on everything she needed to learn that she didn’t already know,â Taylor said.
In the first quarter of the season, especially in the last three games, extra time at the gym has paid off for Georgia. Chapman has shown a deadly midrange jumper, can give Que Morrison a quick break to protect the opponent’s best player and play with the stifling defensive approach.
âIt has helped tremendously to have him here for the preseason,â Coombs said. âWe already had our groove. It became very difficult for her to figure it all out, and she did really well with the SEC game, but that’s when she entered. We established this chemistry early on.
From afar, Chapman’s biggest supporters saw him too. Her parents have weekly Zoom sessions with their daughter from Maryland. They’ll be talking about a myriad of things, but Erik only has to look at his face to see how basketball is going.
Happiness answers this question.
âAn offseason was the biggest advantage,â Chapman said. “I feel more comfortable and more present with the team.”
‘Like very little that I have seen’
Chapman only played six minutes in the victory at Texas Tech after recording double-digit minutes in the previous six games. Georgia had found their rhythm with the starters, but Chapman’s rare action proved vital for the Lady Bulldogs to secure another victory.
Bryn Gerlich threw a ball at Texas Tech star Vivian Gray, and Chapman slid it into the lane. She had proven her worth as a defensive threat against Notre Dame and Marquette, but Chapman’s defensive skills forced Taylor to consistently give her late-in-game minutes.
The Lady Bulldogs have always raved about Chapman’s speed, and now we see him with steals, chase rebounds and chasing opposing guards.
“His speed, damn it. She’s so fast, âTaylor said. âHis speed and ability to harass the ball handler and revolutionary screens (is a weapon). Her natural abilities are like very few that I have seen.
Georgia is in the process of finding a leader. Three of them now share duties with Chapman as a top reserve. She has displayed all the qualities of a playmaker, and her teammates prefer to play alongside her rather than trying to score on her in training.
Chapman took a step forward to become the player Georgia envisioned as a freshman. Now, as a full time casket, she has had her moment. There has already been a recall.
âI wanted more from my time in Georgia,â Chapman said. “Especially on the basketball side.”