Former TSA basketball star takes a long detour in hopes of playing in D-I

  • Olly Skeet-Browning, left, and Tyler Chapin, right, contribute to a critique of their first half against Websterville at Sharon Academy boys basketball in Sharon, Vt., Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2020. Sharon won 62-48. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. James M. Patterson

  • As Sharon Academy picks up steam against Websterville, Tyler Chapin, left, celebrates while heading to the sidelines for a timeout with Phoenix teammate Ian Robertson, right, in Sharon, Vt., Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2020. Sharon won 62-48. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. Valley News file photograph — James M. Patterson

  • Tyler Chapin

Valley News Sports Editor
Published: 2/15/2021 7:13:12 PM
Modified: 2/16/2021 9:44:38 PM

The route Tyler Chapin has chosen to follow in search of college basketball opportunities has hit a few bumps along the way.

A Chelsea native who spent the past two winters pouring in points at Sharon Academy, Chapin retains a goal of playing NCAA Division I hoop in a few years. Feeling he wasn’t likely to attain that shot toiling in VPA Division IV, he and his mother, Brooks, moved to North Carolina last August.

Settling into a new situation north of Charlotte, Chapin enrolled at a charter school, Langtree Academy, when it appeared the COVID-19 pandemic might prevent basketball at his new public school.

He got in a handful of games with his new team only to sustain a broken wrist that ended his season a couple of weeks ago.

Beyond that setback, Chapin remains confident in his navigation. A more-temperate climate means more opportunities to play outdoors. A more-metropolitan setting means more time for off-court physical training. A plan to reclassify as a junior next year, possibly at another school, means two more years to play, two more years for someone to hopefully discover him.

“North Carolina is really good; it has a lot of history as a basketball state,” Chapin explained in a phone interview last week. “When we were looking at states to move to on the East Coast, I didn’t want to go to another state that didn’t have a lot of history in basketball. I wanted to go to a state with a lot of history and a lot of known, really good players. North Carolina has always had good players.”

A member of the last eighth-grade class before Chelsea closed its high school in 2018, Chapin tossed in more than 700 points in two seasons for coach Blake Fabrikant at Sharon. The 6-foot-1 guard ranked third in the Upper Valley in scoring as a sophomore (21.3 points per game) and topped 30 points in four contests, helping the Phoenix reach the D-IV quarterfinals.

Fabrikant could sense Chapin wanted a tougher challenge than Vermont could provide.

“It’s pretty evident that he wants to play basketball at a competitive level,” Fabrikant said recently. “For a lot of products in Vermont, it’s hard. We don’t have stiff competition unless you go to the Burlingtons or Rices or St. Johnsburys. For the most part, these players end up playing (NCAA) Division III, and Tyler has aspirations of playing at a higher level.”

Basketball has always been Chapin’s sport of choice, to the exclusion of all others. It’s the only game he played at TSA, and it’s his sole athletic focus now.

Connections Chapin made once he and his mother settled down in Huntersville have helped chart his course, leading to suggestions for private schools and training gyms. In addition to its basketball commitment, Langtree — located 15 miles further north in Mooresville — appealed to both mother and son because of its split of home and on-campus education in the midst of the pandemic.

His experience of adapting as a TSA freshman from another town two years ago also helped with acclimating to a new school in North Carolina.

“That is kind of wild, considering he came from there to here,” Langtree boys basketball coach Jason Walden said in a phone interview. “For some reason, North Carolina is the place to come, but that’s a long distance for just basketball.

“The biggest thing I’ve gotten from Tyler was, when he came in, he was really quiet at first, gathering that he was coming from another school a long way away and not knowing many people. As we progressed, he got a little more vocal, made some friends and then had that mishap with his wrist. I thought he’s just not going to be around because he’s suffered that broken wrist, but he’s been at every game since he broke it. He’s been at every practice, even though he can’t practice; he’s been at every game, supporting us. He’s just a great all-around kid.”

Since Langtree belongs to the governing body for North Carolina public school sports, Chapin would lose a year of playing eligibility if he reclassified there, Walden said. That makes another move likely; Brooks Chapin said she and her son are already doing their research, with a possible eye toward prep school in South Carolina.

“If he wanted to, he could make that jump easy,” Walden said, “especially with the way he adjusts.”

Fabrikant was both Chapin’s basketball coach and his academic advisor at TSA; they still talk regularly. Fabrikant sent Chapin some thoughts after his first two Langtree games, pointing out things he did well (he had 18 points in his debut) and others requiring attention, such as defending with aggression.

“He was like, ‘You’re right,’ ” Fabrikant said. “When you’re the best on the floor, you have to convince yourself. It’s the only way you will go where you want to go.”

Chapin has a destination in mind. The route to get there remains a work in progress.

Greg Fennell can be reached at gfennell@vnews.com or 603-727-3226.




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