Sophomore forward Jared Chatham, known by most as Jay, is your typical 6’9” kid who enjoys playing basketball just a little bit more than most people. He can remember growing up, playing basketball at the park with his brother in South Central Los Angeles where he was born and raised.
“My brother put the ball in my hands at a young age. I saw him playing at the park and I wanted to play with him,” Chatham said.
Growing up in Los Angeles wasn’t easy for Jared. He had to stay on his toes while also minding his own business when it came to being in public.
“When you’re back home [in L.A.], you have to always be aware of your surroundings. A lot of things can happen so quick,” Chatham said.
Chatham started playing basketball in the fifth grade, but he didn’t start taking the game seriously until eighth grade. Chatham attended George Washington Preparatory High School in Los Angeles and appeared in the starting lineup his junior and senior years on the team. He helped the team to consecutive 20-win seasons and also played for the Belizean National Team in high school.
With so many things to do in Los Angeles, Jared said he always found himself having fun and hanging out with friends in his down time.
“My friends and I always liked going to the beach in Santa Monica, and going shopping afterwards,” Chatham said.
Moving from L.A. to Conway was an adjustment for Chatham, but he likes the changes that came with the move.
“I like it here because there’s a lot of good people and everyone is so nice,” Chatham said.
Chatham is currently a rotation player for the Bears , playing 10-15 minutes per game. To improve as a player, he wants to mold himself into a defensive juggernaut who will help lead to a starting role on the team. Chatham said his desire to perform at a high level is what drives him to be a better player and improve every day.
“I want to try and become one of best defensive players this school has ever seen,” Chatham said. “Anybody can score the ball, but I want to be different. If I’m not impacting the game offensively, I want to make sure I can impact the game defensively at a high level.”
Chatham’s teammates think highly of the sophomore forward. They said they appreciate his work ethic and his desire to improve in any way possible.
“Jared has an awesome work ethic and he is always one of the first ones in the gym, and one of the last ones out of the gym,” senior center Tanner Schmit said.
The Bears are currently fifth in the Southland Conference standings with a record of 5-5, but Jared believes they can achieve much more. His goal is a conference championship this year.
“It’ll take consistent effort every night, from every player, and it has to start on the defensive end,” Chatham said.
Jared is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Family and Consumer Science and is set to graduate in the spring of 2020.