OGDEN — Off the court, Brekkott Chapman is usually easy to smile.
His amicable nature is one of the things prep prospects who ultimately choose to play for Weber State basketball point out when asked who they met on their visit to Ogden. Almost to a man, each talks about the family-like nature of the team and pinpoints Chapman as one reason for that.
“We asked him to help us a lot in recruiting and he was really good. When kids come in, he took a genuine interest in them,” WSU head coach Randy Rahe said. “He was always open to take these recruits and show them what Weber State is about and take a genuine interest in those kids ... Brekkott has helped us in a lot of ways.”
Chapman grew to love Weber State after transferring from the University of Utah as a junior.
“I talk about how it is such a family here. We all are so close and if anyone is going through something, everyone is there for them,” Chapman said. “I honestly feel like you don’t get that when you go to a bigger school. Right here, everybody cares about you as a person and wants you to develop to the best person you can be. They push you to become a good player. It’s a great place and I love it here.”
His ability to sell that to others is more than a pitch for the Roy native. It came through unforeseen anguish that turned his life upside down.
When Chapman decided to leave Utah, one center of gravity pulling him back to Weber County was the arrival of a child. Utah blocked his transfer to all in-state schools except Weber and, after he nearly signed at the University of San Diego, Rahe told him he could deliver a scholarship to keep the 6-foot-9 forward close to home.
Transfer rules required Chapman to sit out the 2016-17 season, during which he used his redshirt to save eligibility. But the ability to enroll at Weber State meant the opportunity to try from the start to be the father he wanted to be.
More than a year later, just before his junior year of basketball would begin, he learned information previously kept from him that he could only describe as a “big shock.”
The child wasn’t his.
“That was one of the hardest times of my life for sure — that summer was rough and the first few months of the season,” Chapman said. “But our guys had my back, coaches were there for me. They helped me through it — and family and friends, of course.”
He said it helped to live so close to home to get the support he needed.
Still, it’s the kind of heartbreak that could eat holes in your stomach.
Chapman’s smile came back.
“I feel great and I’m in the best place I’ve ever been in my life. It’s in the past. We’re moving on, moving forward,” he said.
He’s trying to wrap up a degree in professional sales, for starters. And, on the court, Chapman has fashioned his best season as a senior. Working through an offseason completely healthy set up a year in which he’s a top candidate for Big Sky defensive player of the year.
“He’s mostly a happy guy and I like that about him. He shows up happy,” Rahe said. “I think he was happy here in our program. We embraced him, we put our arms around him and he’s worked as hard here as he has his whole career to be a good player ... this is the best season he’s had in his career because he invested into our program and we invested in him.
“He’s a wonderful kid, he’s a really good teammate,” Rahe said.
Chapman is averaging 12.4 points per game on 48.4 percent shooting this season and has a career 42.1 average from behind the arc in two years at Weber State. His nine rebounds per game leads the Big Sky this season and he’s hovered near the top 10 nationally in defensive rebounding percentage.
He added 1.8 blocks per game this season, including four outings with at least four blocks — peaking at six twice over his career.
Before wrapping up the regular season this weekend against Idaho (on Thursday) and Eastern Washington (Saturday, senior night), Chapman sits at 95 career blocks, good for seventh all-time. Six more would move him into the top five despite only playing two seasons in Ogden.
He also gave WSU a true stretch-four player, the likes of which may have set the mold for Rahe and new and incoming players like Donatas Kupsas and Bouki Diakite.
A 4-of-7 outing at Idaho State on Monday moved Chapman past Jeremy Senglin (41.9) into fifth all-time in career 3-point percentage. A couple more good nights and he’d move past Kellen McCoy (42.3) for fourth.
But with all that, Chapman didn’t have a ready answer for his favorite moments and memories at Weber State as he recalled playing in Utah’s 2015 Sweet 16 run.
“I’m ready to make those moments these next few weeks with this Weber squad,” he said. “Last year, I felt it was a little disappointing how we finished. Those two years before that, I had some good runs ... Those are memories I want to share with these guys.”
Chapman and Weber State have two final home games and a chance to get hot for three days in Boise.
Either way: “It’s been a hell of a ride and I’ve loved it up here,” Chapman said.