Quiet contributors play key role for Parrish
by W. Brian Hale
Feb 28, 2014 | 1233 views | 0 0 comments | 34 34 recommendations | email to a friend | print

Parrish’s Reginald Harris brings the ball up the court against Sunshine during their state tournament semifinal game on Tuesday. Harris is team leader for Tornadoes. Parrish takes on St. Jude for the 1A title today. Photo by Johnathan Bentley
Parrish’s Reginald Harris brings the ball up the court against Sunshine during their state tournament semifinal game on Tuesday. Harris is team leader for Tornadoes. Parrish takes on St. Jude for the 1A title today. Photo by Johnathan Bentley
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BIRMINGHAM — Throughout a season filled with crowd-pleasing dunks, drive-killing blocks and three-point shots that deflate opposing defenses, three members of the Parrish Tornado squad have quietly contributed to the outstanding success of this year’s third-ranked, state final team.

Senior starter Reginald Harris, along with eighth-grade foward Isaac Chatman and sophomore forward Mykelti Chatman have been a stable force for the program this season in each of their roles. Whether guarding some of the top scoring threats in the state, or relieving starters who are in foul trouble or need a breather, all three players have earned the confidence of the coaches and teammates by providing clutch play in critical situations, where momentum can shift on a timely steal or second-chance shot.

Reginald Harris, senior

A veteran member of the Tornadoes’ squad, Reginald Harris has played in every game since head coach Heath Burns arrival during the 2011-12 season and helped guide Parrish to three Northwest Region Tournament appearances.

Regarded as one the top defenders in the state, Harris began his career with the Tornadoes as a dynamic scoring threat during his freshman year. However, his true love was playing defense — where his natural skills of forcing turnovers and disrupting the play of opposing offensive players helped evolve him into a multi-purpose player and a catalyst in Parrish’s trademark transition offense.

The results have been crucial — this season, Harris has recorded 111 steals, 50 assists, forced 67 turnovers and averages eight points a game. His performance against Belgreen’s three-point threat Chase Landers in the Northwest Region Championship game — who scored 32 points against Sumiton Christian in the semi-finals — was considered his defensive masterpiece after holding Landers to just four points and 0-13 from three-point range.

“Reggie may not get stats that stand out on a box score sheet, but what he does for our program is an integral part of our success,” Burns said. “He scores because of the way he plays defense. He may hit the occasional three-point basket or a perimeter shot, but his ability to guard the opposing team’s best guard is outstanding. We saw it in the Belgreen game and what it meant — without his play, we wouldn’t beat them. Reggie’s so unselfish to take on that role that it might hurt him in the overall stats, but he’s not worried about those things. He’s just a wonderful young and I wouldn’t want anyone else out guarding an offense threat like he does.”  

Reginald’s brother Jermichael, who has played alongside him for the past four seasons, said Reginald’s competitive nature that developed during childhood has been a driving force for shaping him into a stellar defender.

“Reggie’s always been extremely competitive — he’s small, but he’s very fast and that makes him so good on defense,” Jermichael said. “He doesn’t like his opponents to get the best of him. But through it all, the thing that stands out is his composure. He’s got a great attitude and his character makes him an even better player.”

Reflecting on his performances this year in key games, Reginald said the confidence he has received from his coaches and teammates has been a cornerstone in motivating to play at his best.

“Coach Burns has a gameplan for each opponent — when he assigns me to a player, he trusts me to keep that person guarded,” Reginald said. “We all do our jobs out on the court, without each of us doing what we can on defense, we wouldn’t be playing for a state title.”

Issac Chatman, eighth grade

Last season, Isaac Chatman saw limited time as one of the Tornadoes’ backup players, making few appearances when the team was in command of the game by a large margin.

As a 6-4 seventh-grader, he was gifted with a natural ability to not only find the basket, but grab rebounds and alter offensive shots.

A year and an inch later, Chatman has evolved into one of Parrish’s most pivotal bench players, prominently called into action when Jermichael Harris, Denzell Daley or Reginald Harris has to step off the court.

He hasn’t disappointed when taking to the court. Seeing action in all of Parrish’s 30 games this year, Isaac is second on the team in rebounds (224) and blocks (60). He’s contributed to the offensive effort with 7.5 points per game.

Burns stated that Isaac’s versatility makes him a valuable asset to his team and commended his maturity and presence on the court.

“Isaac can replace a big or a smaller guy — to be an eighth grader and play at the level he does is fascinating,” Burns said. “He could easily leave high school basketball as one of most highly touted guys to come out of the state of Alabama — he’s that talented. He provides a great spark for us when he comes off the bench and he’s got starting experience from the beginning of this year that had helped him grow into an even better player. You just can’t replace the depth that he brings to us on both sides of the ball.”

Jermichael Harris, who Isaac relieves in critical situations, said the growth from the eighth grader has been amazing.

“Isaac is a great guy — he’s an excellent role player and strives to get better every week,” Harris said. “He always comes into the game ready to give it his all and has worked hard to help us get to this point. We’re all proud of the way that he has grown both on and off the court.

Mykelti Chatman, sophomore

In his first year with the Tornadoes, Mykelti Chatman has evolved into a capable backup to starter Barry Hill. At 6-6, with plenty of muscle thanks to significant time in the weight room, Mykelti emerged as a natural post player with his tendency to grab tough rebounds and make contested shots close to the basket.

As the season progresses, his ability to grab rebounds excelled, recording double-digit rebounding games in seven contests — including a career-high 17 boards against Brilliant.

His 217 rebounds and 60 blocked shots both rank third on the team — key when Hill has exited the court.

Hill quickly singled out Mykelti’s play after Tuesday’s semi-final win over Sunshine, where the sophomore came off the bench to quickly score five points, grab four rebounds and record two steals in the first half of play. Hill said practices between the two are intense and has resulted in better development for both players.

“He’s a great player — we work each other hard at practices. Everything he does is great, not only for him, but for all of us on the team,” Hill said. “He takes rebounds, blocks shots and puts up points when we need it. He’s continuing to grow every day — and growth is something he wants to continue to do.”

Burns stated that he’s never seen the type of progression that Mykelti has made since stepping onto the court at the beginning of the year.

“We always knew that Mykelti had the potential to be a great player, now he’s showing it,” Burns said. “To do what he did against Sunshine who has three- and four-star players, in the biggest game of his young career, he held his own. He has been the key in this playoff run, as you can look and see that in every game, he’s made a critical play. I can’t be more proud more of a guy who comes to work and puts forth the effort he does. His ceiling, like his brother Isaac, is extremely high and he’s going to be a tremendous player for us in the years to come.”