Builders set out on long road

Published 11:52 pm Saturday, November 13, 2010

Apprentice sophomore Chris Hearn, pictured here during his senior season with King’s Fork, is one of three Suffolk high school players on the Builder basketball team for the 2010-11 season. The Builders, under first-year head coach Franklin Chatman, are opening their season this weekend with a three-game road trip through Maine.

As former Nansemond River and Nansemond-Suffolk basketball coach Franklin Chatman starts his first season leading a collegiate program, at The Apprentice School, it’s going to take awhile before he knows what it’s like coaching at Apprentice.

That’s because Chatman and his Builders will be “living out of a suitcase,” said Chatman for the two months of the hoop season.

Starting with three games in three days in Maine this weekend, the Builders play 14 straight games on the road before their home opener comes on Jan. 14.

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Chatman, who coached the Saints for the last two seasons and led the Warriors to four straight Southeastern District titles from 2001-04, starts in his new position with a team he’ll have two full seasons to work with.

The Builder roster has no seniors, yet six returning players who saw important playing time a season ago.

“We’re looking forward to a really good year. We’ve been working with the guys on picking up the system I’m trying to implement,” Chatman said.

The Builders played Elizabeth City State and Chowan to narrow losses in exhibition games before heading to Maine to face Southern Maine C.C., Central Maine C.C. and Maine-Fort Kent. The Builders will be closer to home, but still on the road, at Virginia State on Saturday at 4 p.m.

Athleticism is a strength across the board says Chatman and that’s led by Isaih Harrison, a junior forward who was a USCAA (United States Collegiate Athletic Association) All-American last season. Harrison averaged 19.0 points and 10.0 rebounds a game last season.

“The six guys we have back, they know what it takes from experience. They know the challenge and are already helping the new guys through the process,” Chatman said.

The Builders went 13-12 overall, but have competed for USCAA national titles numerous times in the last few seasons.

King’s Fork grad Chris Hearn now counts as a returning veteran as a sophomore guard. Hearn played in 18 games last season, averaging 7.6 points and 4.3 rebounds per game. He played on the Bulldogs’ 2008-09 state champion team.

Chatman has brought in two more Suffolk products, freshmen Steve Woods and Latrone Demiel. Woods, from Lakeland, is a 6-foot-4 forward. Demiel, a 6-foot-1 guard, played for Chatman during his five years at Nansemond River, so a “new freshman” fits better than a “young freshman.”

“He’s another coach on the floor. He knows what I’m trying to teach,” Chatman said about Demiel.

“This is a great opportunity for him coming into the Apprentice program. This is a wonderful program. It’s more of an opportunity than just playing basketball,” Chatman said.

Which brings up what makes The Apprentice School unique and especially demanding for student-athletes.

Students have work and class starting around 7 a.m. and going all day. By basketball practice, from 5:30-7:30 p.m., it would be easy to think energy would be running low.

“Juggling everything is kind of hard, but our kids commit to doing it,” Chatman said. “Of course, they all love basketball though, so they enjoy practicing and playing and they’re willing to make the sacrifice.”

Even the many road trips to start the season can be turned into positives.

“We’re really going to be able to build as a team and come together as a unit,” Chatman said.