Chaplin chooses Cal Lutheran: Whittell basketball standout commits to Kingsmen
For as long as he can remember, Palmer Chaplin dreamed of playing college basketball. The Whittell basketball standout’s dream has now become reality.
Chaplin will continue his hoops career at California Lutheran University after committing to the Kingsmen last month. In the midst of his senior year, he couldn’t be happier taking the next step on the hardwood.
“I wondered where I was going to end up,” Chaplin said. “To finally have a destination is relieving. Now I can take a little pressure off myself and focus on academics.”
Cal Lutheran first saw Chaplin in action at the Double Pump Best of the Summer Tournament in Southern California following his sophomore year. Though other schools were in contact in the 6-foot guard, the Kingsmen’s continued interest in Chaplin ultimately made his decision an easy one.
“It was the best opportunity and it’s a good school,” Chaplin said. “It was a combination of a lot of things.”
Chaplin took two visits to Cal Lutheran’s campus in Thousand Oaks, Calif. Both times he left the school he was left with the same impression — that it was the right place for him.
“I stayed with some of the players, got a feel for the coaches and the campus,” he said. “It was really cool, because overall I felt like I fit; I’m not just going there so I can play.”
Cal Lutheran plays in the Div. III Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference. The Kingsmen finished in a three-way tie for first place last season in the conference that features nine schools spread across Southern California.
“I’m going to go in, I’m going to work hard and try to get minutes,” Chaplin said. “Over the summer, I’m going to try to get bigger, get stronger and put in the work in the gym, so when I get there I can transform to whatever they need me to be.”
Chaplin’s path from the South Shore to Thousand Oaks was created through hard work and dedication to the sport he loves. Whittell head coach Phil Bryant has seen that firsthand, regularly opening up the Warriors’ gym outside of school hours and practice times so Chaplin could put up shots and work on his game.
“It’s an absolutely unbelievable work ethic — it’s unparalleled,” Bryant said. “He is literally in the gym every day and it paid off for him.”
Chaplin has turned that dedication into a college scholarship, and success on the basketball court at Whittell. While running the point for the Warriors, he has won back-to-back state Div. IV Player of the Year honors and helped the team to a state championship during the 2013-14 season.
“His basketball skill level is good and he’s only going to get better,” Bryant said. “He doesn’t know it yet, but he’s going to get better and better as the level of competition steps up.”
As a junior last year, Chaplin averaged 21.3 points, 8.1 assists, 4.6 rebounds and 4.2 steals per game — all career-best marks. In three seasons at Whittell, he scored 1,362 points and is on pace to set the school’s career scoring record.
“He’s the ultimate teammate,” Bryant said. “He has no problem with taking the big shot, making the big play or giving it up to somebody else.”
And while he has moonlighted on the gridiron at kicker and receiver for the Whittell football team this fall, Chaplin can’t wait for his senior basketball season to get underway. He and his Warriors teammates will begin the campaign aiming for a second state championship in three seasons.
“It’s about winning and going out there and winning a state title,” Chaplin said. “I’m really excited. It’s the finale for all of us.”
Though excited to move forward, Chaplin characterized his senior year at Whittell as bittersweet. Looking back, he admitted that he didn’t reach this point of his basketball career without support from many along the way.
“I couldn’t have done it without coach Bryant, my parents and all the guys here. It’s definitely more than just me,” Chaplin said. “It wasn’t just me working hard.”
At the next level, Chaplin aims to translate that relentless work ethic into success both on the court and in the classroom. But for the talented guard, he might not always feel like he’s doing enough.
“I always feel like I can work harder and do more, but that’s just kind of my mindset,” Chaplin said. “There’s always something else to get done.”
For now, Chaplin can check taking the next step in his hoops career off the list.
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