Chappell Eyes Greater Success
By Ryan Lazo, sports editor
Jan 21, 2014, 13:13
Ryan Lazo/Hopewell News/News-Patriot
PRINCE GEORGE — Royals' forward Savonte Chappell receives a bounce-pass in the low-blocks and immediately pivots his feet to face-up the basket. A double-team swarms him, but there is no panic in his eyes. Chappell up-fakes, causing Hopewell's Malik Monds to fly into the air before finally going up with his shot while drawing the foul.
In a play which took all of four seconds to develop, one can understand how Chappell can affect a game with his sheer physicality and footwork which belies his age. The sophomore routinely records double-doubles for Prince George, making it a notable event when he does not do so.
However, even with the immediate success he has had on the basketball court, Chappell is not one to bask in the attention. The soft-spoken sophomore rather keep his focus on working hard in practice and developing the finer points in his game.
It's an aspect Prince George head coach Travis Carr says makes him stand out among other talented players.
"Of course we know his potential, but I think he's just realizing it himself," Carr said of Chappell. "But he knows he has to work hard and the kid has a great work ethic — that's on and off the court. The coaches say great things about him, but even teachers come up to me everyday and say gracious things about that kid."
In fact, it's one of the things the 6-foot-5 forward allows himself to focus on besides basketball. Chappell knows the importance of an education. It's been stressed to him since birth and it's why he makes sure to leave an impression on those teachers he is fortunate enough to take classes from.
It's actually what continues to drive him on the hardwood.
For most athletes, they see a scholarship offer and equate it to a chance at using it as a showcase and stepping stone to use basketball as a means to earn money. While a lofty goal, indeed, only a sophomore, Chappell recognizes it's a chance to pursue a college degree.
"I want to go college," Chappell explained after a loss to Millwood. "Academics is a great part of going to the next level and playing basketball. So if you don't have the grades, you aren't going anywhere. It's why I focus on those first and then basketball."
It's that same maturity off the court which drives Chappell while stepping on the hardwood.
Chappell never panics in any game situation and seemingly slows the game to a crawl while deciphering a defense. Even when undersized against teams like he was against Millwood, the sophomore uses his advanced skill-set to remain an impact player.
The Bobcats' Jermaine Matthews — a 6-foot-7 forward — drew the assignment on Chappell for much of the first half and while the Royals may have struggled around him, the sophomore didn't. Chappell tallied 10 first-half points, while skying high for rebounds over the taller Bobcats' front-court.
Ryan Lazo/Hopewell News/News-Patriot
Knowing how to utilize one's body is something which takes years of play for a basketball player to master. However, Chappell knows how to position himself well in the low-blocks and overpower players he may be mismatched against.
"I told our guys before the game that we had to be mean and put our bodies on them," Carr said of facing Millwood. "Even though we may be undersized, we know how to rebound. Savonte knows how to position his body in good spots and hit the boards."
And the biggest compliment a player can receive is when other teams specifically game-plan to stop them. While facing Hopewell, Chappell saw multiple defensive looks, including double-teams and a focus on fronting the post after averaging 14.2 points per game over his last five outings.
Prince George could not give Chappell the amount of touches he normally receives, but in the few times he received a pass, the sophomore delivered, scoring 13 points in the losing effort.
Yet, Chappell is not satisfied with his play. He aims to continue working on his game, expanding his repertoire on the offensive end and learning to better effect the game like the player he emulates, Shaquille O'Neil.
"He's good in the interviews and on the court, so I try to be like him," Chappell explained. "I want to work on defense and be more versatile in the paint by going to gym and working everyday."
It's that work ethic which should lead Chappell to success not only this season, but in future years both on and off the court. Although, for now his focus is on turning around Prince George's season prior to conference tournament time.
He'll attempt to add more wins to the Royals' record by soaring for rebounds, using pivots to score while displaying his importance to a team on the cusp of putting it all together.