Defensive success is often measured by steals and blocks as there aren’t many other ways to quantify it with numbers at the lower levels of basketball.
When Shady Spring’s Braden Chapman is on the court its easy to see the impact he has.
The Tigers’ best on-ball defender, he changes the way opposing offenses offenses operate.
“We feel like Braden’s our best on-ball defender,” Shady Spring head coach Ronnie Olson said after a semifinal win against Scott. “He’s our best defender … we thought (Scott point guard Isaac Setser) was the head of the snake and we were able to kind of take him away from the 3-point line and move the offense up to the volleyball line. That’s where their offense started at and they struggled with it.”
Chapman’s ability to harass ball handlers gave the Shady defense its backbone and its why he’s been named the Lootpress Defensive Player of the Year for the second consecutive season.
To Chapman’s credit he did well in counting stats, averaging 3.7 steals per game to go along with 18.7 points and 5.2 rebounds.
During his senior campaign he helped the Tigers return to the Class AAA title game for the third consecutive season, earning Class AAA all-state captain honors once again.
Simply put, he’s a special player and he saved arguably his best defensive performance for his final high school contest.
Facing Fairmont Senior’s Zycheus Dobbs, a two-time first-team all-stater and Player of the Year candidate, Chapman excelled against the talented junior. Dobbs, who averaged 21 points per game this year, played 24 minutes, taking just one shot and scoring one point in the title game, eventually fouling out. The came with Chapman in his face on nearly every possession.
That performance wasn’t an accident. Last season Dobbs, a powerful point guard, diced the Tigers on drives, eventually hitting the game-winning shot in the title game. He scored just two points with Chapman as his primary defender in last year’s title game but finished with 16 overall.
Coming into the year, Chapman knew that when the two teams met again he’d be responsible for Dobbs all game. As such he prepared all offseason for the task.
“Our plan was to face guard Dobbs,” Olson said. “We’re known for switching screens but we weren’t going to switch. Braden took that challenge and completely shut him down. The way he approaches the game – I’ve had tons of players who are hard workers but I’ve never seen a kid go every single play at 110 percent. He’ll literally burn his energy to death and gave everything and more in the state championship game. That’s what makes him such a good defender. He literally plays every possession like it’s his last. To be a good defender you can’t get tired. He’s always in a stance and worked hard on his body, especially knowing he’d be guarding Dobbs. All season he got bigger and put muscle on. But it’s his mindset. You can’t say you want to be a great defender, it has to be a mindset. He has one of the best defensive mindsets I’ve ever seen.”
A program built on defense, Chapman is the perfect on-court avatar for Olson. He understands what his coach wants and his ability to eradicate a player entirely helps his teammates excel, freeing them up to specialize in their specific tasks each night.
“We’re able to shut the other team’s best player down, usually,” Olson said. “He can shut one player down and we can get numbers elsewhere defensively. Braden can shut down one player any night and it frees up somebody to go rebound, it frees up guys to help off or stay connected. Maybe there’s a shooter there and they don’t have to help off of them because we don’t need the help because nobody’s going to go by Braden. He just frees up so many guys defensively. It’s like putting a corner back on an island with a team’s best wide receiver. You don’t have to worry about your defense. You just worry about what everyone else is doing. That’s a luxury to have and I’m going to miss that for sure.”
As the DPOY, Chapman, a WVU Tech commit, will receive another $500 scholarship in addition to the one he earned last season. He will be honored at the Lootpress Spring Player of the Year Banquet on May 27 at the Beckley-Raleigh County Convention center.
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Lootpress Defensive Player of the Year Winners
2022: Braden Chapman, Shady Spring, Jr.
2023: Braden Chapman, Shady Spring, Sr.