View Full Version : KU signee Mario Chalmers eyes state title

01-17-2005, 05:34 PM
Dont know if been posted yet, been away from the computer all weekend long spending time with my girlfriend.


KU signee Chalmers eyes state title
With college scholarship guaranteed, guard can relax, focus on finale

By Van Williams - Anchorage Daily News

Sunday, January 16, 2005

Anchorage, Alaska — With his college scholarship secured, Bartlett High basketball star Mario Chalmers can stop worrying about his future and start focusing on right now. That means winning another state title.

Rather than entering his final season trying to woo college coaches and sweating the SATs, Chalmers, who has signed with national power Kansas University and already earned a qualifying test score, will aim to hoist the trophy that eluded him last year.

After winning Class 4A state titles in each of his first two seasons, Chalmers and the Golden Bears lost an overtime thriller to underdog West in last year's championship game. That loss, something he said he couldn't stop thinking about, will be his motivation every time he takes the court.

Chalmers, 18, wants to go out a winner.

"That's very important," he said, "especially because it's my last year."

Chalmers, the No. 1-ranked senior point guard in the country according to several recruiting services, is off to a fantastic start. He is averaging 27.2 points, 7.7 steals, 4.8 rebounds and 3.7 assists through six games, highlighted by season highs of 33 points and 10 steals.

Bartlett, however, has gone just 3-3 against mostly outside competition (2-0 in Alaska).

The challenge of winning a state title this season will be the greatest of his high school career, and Chalmers will have to rack up more than Kobe-like numbers to get it done.

As a point guard, he is responsible for getting other players involved. But as team captain, his job will be to show them the way.

Bartlett returns just two starters (Chalmers, Damon Ingram) and boasts a cast of junior varsity call-ups. The Golden Bears were picked by league coaches to finish third in the Cook Inlet Conference, which puts them on the bubble for state.

"Oh, we'll go to state," predicted Ingram, a junior forward. "We have to bring the new guys up to speed. Once we get everybody on the same page, we should be straight."

Having a dynamic floor general in Chalmers gives the Golden Bears an edge over the rest of the state. He has a point guard mentality with two-guard skills, making him a threat to score any time he has the ball.

With a quick first step, a smooth jumper and dribbling skills that are the definition of mad handles, he nearly is impossible to stop one on one.

"Mario could score 40 or 50 points a game," said Bartlett coach Ronnie Chalmers, Mario's dad.

But if Bartlett is to win it all, Chalmers will have to raise the level of play of his teammates. He can't do it by taking center stage in a one-man show.

Ronnie Chalmers believes that molding this Bartlett team will help Mario's college career. Once at Kansas, where he will play for coach Bill Self, Chalmers will need a more assertive attitude to command respect.

"He's got a great opportunity to step into Kansas and be a leader," Ronnie said. "Coach Self has expressed that on more than one occasion. And so Mario is going to have to learn here."

In the spotlight

Chalmers prefers to lead by actions, which he said is why he likes to have the ball in his hands. But there are times, particularly in Alaska, when Chalmers struggles with his concentration. He can go through stretches when he seems bored.

The biggest knock on Chalmers has been the level of competition he faces in Alaska. The two-time player of the year has said he could "slack off sometimes" here.

It's a mind-set his dad is trying to change.

"Mario has a tendency to play to the level of his competition," Ronnie said. "My challenge this year is to get him to play (hard) every night. That's easier said than done."

Playing hard isn't a problem when Chalmers takes his show on the road, in part because he doesn't want to get clowned. The 6-foot-2 guard may be the top dog in Alaska, but in the Lower 48 he's just one of the many elite players.

"You gotta step up when you go down there," he said. "If not, you're going to get embarrassed. Everybody is quick and athletic.

"And plus, people are taller down there. Up here, it's short, slow people."

Major recruiting services rank Chalmers in the top 20 players of college basketball's 2005 recruiting class, first among point guards. His evaluation is based on performances at high-profile camps, AAU tournaments and Team USA events.

Chalmers has fared well on the national stage, especially the last two years, causing his stock to skyrocket. Last summer, he returned to the prestigious Adidas ABCD Camp and made a first-time visit to an NBA Camp featuring the top 100 high school players.

He also participated in the USA Basketball Youth Developmental Festival with the top 48 juniors and seniors. Chalmers finished second in scoring (22.2 ppg), and first in steals (17) and three-point buckets (16). He collected game highs of 39 points and 11 assists.

Chalmers has also received attention when Bartlett traveled to high school tournaments Outside. Already, the Golden Bears have traveled to Washington and South Carolina this season; they head to Missouri this week.

Chalmers can be the leading attraction.

"When we go play Outside, everybody knows his name," Ingram said. "It's weird."

The real deal

These high-profile camps are where Chalmers made his name, drawing interest from Kansas, Arizona, North Carolina, Wake Forest and Georgia Tech, which all recruited him fiercely.

It's also where Chalmers showcased his above-the-rim skills. With freakishly long arms and a 38-inch vertical leap, dunking is always an option for Chalmers.

Chalmers posterized a defender over the summer in Las Vegas when he came down on the break, exploded off one foot and flushed it on a forward looking to block the shot.

"He jumped with me," he said. "Got 'em."

Soon after, Chalmers dazzled everybody watching -- including himself -- when he rejected a center at the rim.

"He went up for a soft layup and I came from the backside," he said with a smile.

Chalmers isn't known as a defensive stopper, although his 6-7 wingspan allows him to turn into Plastic Man when it comes to guarding an opponent.

"He's very deceptive," Ronnie said. "Other guards may be just as quick ... but Mario has that reach advantage. They think they made a move to get by him, and all of a sudden those long arms come into play."

Chalmers has been destroying opposing ballhandlers this season, collecting 46 steals in six games, including 10 in one game. In December, he tied a tournament record in Myrtle Beach, S.C., with 22 steals in three games.

Chalmers has put a heavier emphasis on his defense, he said, to give his game balance and avoid being labeled as a one-way player. He's even added 15 pounds, bulking up to 180 pounds, to help him in the post.

Ronnie asked his son to make consistent trips to the weight room to build muscle for when he arrives at Kansas of the mighty Big 12 Conference.

"I said, ‘Hey man, you're going to one of the most brutal conferences in the nation,'" Ronnie said. "He really needed to bulk up without decreasing his speed."

Playing with Mario

Ingram is the only player on this year's Bartlett team to have played with Chalmers. He has some advice for newcomers -- be prepared.

One thing teammates quickly learn is that Chalmers can get them the ball.

Because he sees the floor so well, Chalmers often makes passes teammates aren't ready to receive. It's like he knows what they're going to do before they do it.

"When I first started (playing with him) it would be hard to catch his passes," Ingram said. "But now I have my hands up all the time. I'm ready to catch anything because they come from everywhere."

Chalmers is an Iverson-esque point guard whose scoring prowess rivals his court vision and passing skills.

Yet, he still prefers handing out assists.

"My favorite thing is still to pass," Chalmers said.

His ability to light up the scoreboard can make a fan out of anybody, including teammates, who risk standing around and watching the lanky guard work.

"We get in trouble at practice for that," Ingram said. "Coach Chalmers has made that a key, to keep us moving. If (opposing teams) start double-teaming him and triple-teaming him, and we're not moving, then nothing is gonna happen."

With Chalmers on the court, there is always a chance something special will happen.

"The thing about Mario is you never know what he's going to do with the ball," Ronnie said. "He has so many weapons in his arsenal that a lot of times I don't think he knows what he's going to do until the time comes.

"He'll see an opportunity and he'll go for it."

01-17-2005, 06:00 PM
Saw him play Friday night in Springfield at the Tournament of Champions. Impressive kid, team stunk but he was good. One bad thing though, at the end he didnt play defense and was just cherry picking when Poplar Bluff had the scrubs in.