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BOSTON — Jordan Chatman is where he was meant to be.
After returning from his Mormon mission in the Far East, the 6-foot-5 basketball player from Washington graduated in only two years from Brigham Young University and transferred to Boston College, where he is thriving on the court, earning a graduate degree and using his foreign language skills to serve in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
It’s not how Chatman imagined things would go, back in high school, but he’s grateful they did.
“It’s so hard to tell what your future is going to hold, but I’m really grateful to God for the opportunity he has given me to be here,” Chatman said. “It’s been a great fit, a great experience. You never know what God is going to do for you in your life.”
Chatman is one of more than 40 male and female returned LDS missionaries playing Division I college basketball this season.
Prequel to Boston College
At the end of his high school career, Chatman, the son of former BYU great Jeff Chatman, was recruited by the likes of Stanford, Washington State, Utah and BYU before settling on the Cougars. The coaching staff at a school across the country — Boston College — was interested in Jordan Chatman, but he declined, opting instead to follow in his father’s size-13 shoes at BYU, Jeff Chatman said.
One reason young Chatman selected BYU was because it would hold his basketball scholarship while he served a LDS mission in Taiwain.
In addition to embracing the lifestyle and rigors of two-year Mormon mission, Chatman said he delighted in learning to speak Mandarin Chinese and gained a deep love for Asian culture. What he learned helped him gain maturity and prepared him for life at Boston College, he said.
“Having that experience of going on a mission helped me grow up as a person and be able to come out here and handle my business,” Chatman said.
It was also there that the tall American elder met his future wife, Chelsea, a sister missionary and native of Taiwan, while laboring in the same area. They met again later as students at BYU and were eventually married.
Chatman redshirted his first year back at BYU, the 2014-2015 season, then played limited minutes as a freshman the following year.
At the same time, despite the busy life of a student-athlete, Chatman managed to complete his degree in Asian Studies and applied to BYU’s J. Reuben Clark Law School.
But his acceptance to law school created a problem. Chatman was told he could not attend law school and play basketball at the same time, leading him to consider other options, the Boston Globe reported in 2016. That’s when Chatman decided to transfer, the Deseret News reported.
Chatman has made it a point not to look back on that decision.
“It’s behind me,” he said. “I’m grateful to be here, living in this moment.”
More than 10 schools expressed interest in the graduate transfer, including Utah State, Utah Valley University, Weber State, Georgia Tech, Portland State, George Washington and Idaho State.
Aside from a connection to UVU coach Mark Pope, a former BYU assistant, Boston College had three things that appealed to Chatman — an opportunity to play basketball, the right academic situation and a unique chance to serve in the LDS Church.
Playing for the Eagles
Jordan Chatman was immediately the oldest and most experienced player, the coaches wanted him and the team needed him. “It ended up being a perfect fit,” his father Jeff said.
“The opportunity to play in the ACC (Atlantic Coast Conference), you know, with all these great schools, Duke, North Carolina, to play against these teams,” Jordan Chatman said. “It was a great opportunity for me to get more exposure and to play against the highest-level teams. I thought it was an opportunity for me to be able to come in and get a lot of minutes and to contribute, help the team get some wins.”
Boston College coach Jim Christian said Chatman isn’t the first returned Mormon missionary he’s coached (it was Travis Wilkins at Ohio University from 2012-14, one of Christian’s “all-time favorites”). The coach described Chatman as “always steady.”
“Regardless of the situation, he is always under control and has everyone’s best interests at heart. He is totally unselfish — Jordan Chatman is all about winning,” Christian said in an email to the Deseret News. “Jordan is going to have a unique college experience — the opportunity to have a great playing career and leaving with a master’s degree from one of the best business schools in the country.”
During his time at Boston College, Christian said Chatman has re-invented himself as a player.
“He possesses a tremendous work ethic and that has been a positive influence on our entire roster,” Christian said. “Jordan commands so much respect among his teammates.”
During his sophomore season, his first in Boston, Chatman set a new ACC record with nine consecutive threes in a loss at Virginia Tech.
Earlier this season, Chatman was instrumental in helping the Eagles upset Duke.
“Yeah man, Duke was fun,” Chatman said. “To have an undefeated team that was ranked No. 1 coming into our building, and to be able to knock them off, it was an amazing feeling. I grew up watching Duke. It was somewhere I wanted to play. I didn’t get the opportunity, so the next best thing is to be the opposing team and beat them, so it was a lot of fun.”
Chatman scored 30 points in a tight overtime win against Richmond.
He also added 19 points in an overtime victory over Georgia Tech on Sunday, Feb. 4. As of Monday, the Eagles have a 14-9 overall record going into Tuesday’s game at Notre Dame.
Jeff Chatman, who has traveled extensively from his home on the West Coast to watch his son play, recalls seeing a video interview in which Boston College teammates, including team leaders Ky Bowman and Jerome Robinson, express their admiration for his son.
“They said they wanted to be Jordan Chatman,” his father said. “I was blown away when I saw that. He’s making a huge impact.”
Earning an MBA
The school’s Master’s of Business Administration program also aggressively recruited Chatman, his father said.
“We were going to meet with the law school, but before we could do that, the MBA school said they wanted him to do their program. They recruited him really hard. They were persuasive,” Jeff Chatman said. “That’s when he decided not to worry about getting a law degree and get the MBA. That has been fantastic.”
To add to his academic experience, since settling in Boston, Chatman has forged connections with other prominent Mormons and prominent business leaders in the area, including former BYU and NBA player Danny Ainge, general manager of the Boston Celtics, and his family.
When his playing days are over, Chatman can see himself exploring business opportunities that involve his language skills, experience with the Asian culture and sports, he said.
The Mandarin-speaking LDS branch
The opportunity to attend a Mandarin-speaking LDS branch in Cambridge was a third special bonus. The Chatmans, who primarily speak Mandarin to each other at home, were immediately welcomed by the branch of 50 or so members. Chatman now serves as branch clerk while his wife serves as the second counselor in the Relief Society presidency. They return to Taiwan about once a year to visit his wife’s family.
“There is actually a pretty strong Mormon population (in the Boston area),” Jordan Chatman said. “That’s been really good for us to use our language and our experiences over in Taiwan to help spread the missionary work to the Chinese people over here. It’s like being back in Taiwan, honestly. It’s a lot of fun.”
When asked if he was disappointed that things didn’t work out for his son at BYU, Jeff Chatman, who converted to the LDS faith at BYU, replied “Not at all, things couldn’t have worked out more perfectly.
“I told him before he made the decision to go to BYU that I had an unbelievable experience there and it changed my life, it was awesome, but I told him this is your life, and you have got to make the decision for yourself,” Jeff Chatman said. “He made that decision to go on his own. Wherever he goes, I support him 100 percent. … We’ve moved on.”
Other returned LDS missionaries
While Chatman continues to be a missionary at Boston College, there are at least 12 other Division I basketball programs with returned Mormon missionaries on their rosters. BYU has the most with eight; Utah State and Utah Valley each have seven; Idaho State and Southern Utah each have five, including four returned sister missionaries at SUU, one of which is Chatman’s sister, Jessica Chatman; the University of Utah and Weber State have three each; and Colgate, Cornell, Hawaii, Gonzaga and Montana State each have one. Their names are listed here, although this list is not all-inclusive.
If you know of a returned missionary who is playing college basketball at a Division I school not listed, please send the name of the player, the team and where the player served his or her mission to email@example.com.
Brigham Young University (8)
Ryan Andrus, American Fork, Utah (American Fork HS), So., forward; served in Philadelphia.
McKay Cannon, Shelley, Idaho (Shelley HS/Weber State), Jr., guard; served in Chile.
Payton Dastrup, Mesa, Arizona (Mountain View HS), So., forward; served in Panama.
TJ Haws, Alpine, Utah (Lone Peak HS), So., guard; served in France.
Dalton Nixon, Orem, Utah (Orem HS), So., forward; served in Boston.
Zac Seljaas, Bountiful, Utah (Bountiful HS), So., guard; served in Iowa.
Braiden Shaw, Eagle, Idaho (Eagle HS), Jr., forward; served in Sacramento, California.
Luke Worthington, Mequon, Wisconsin (Homestead HS), Jr., forward; served in Chile.
David Maynard, Herriman, Utah (Herriman HS), Fr., guard; served in Argentina.
Kyle Brown, Bellevue, Washington (Newport HS), Sr., guard; served in Montevideo, Uruguay.
Jesse Wade, Kaysville, Utah (Davis HS), Fr., guard; served in France.
Gibson Johnson, Centerville, Utah (Viewmont HS/SLCC), Sr., forward; served in Brazil.
Idaho State (5)
Hayes Garrity, Beaverton, Oregon (Westview HS/UVU), Gr., guard; served in Louisville, Kentucky.
Eric Nakken, Cedar City (Cedar City HS), Sr., guard; served in the Alpine German-Speaking Mission.
Jared Stutzman, Idaho Falls, Idaho (Bonneville HS), So., guard; served in Arcadia, California.
Lyle Sutton, Rexburg, Idaho (Madison HS), Fr., guard; served in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.
Blake Truman, Las Vegas (Legend HS), Jr., forward/center; served in Dallas.
Montana State (1)
Konner Frey, Bountiful (Viewmont HS/UVU), Sr., forward; served in Singapore.
Southern Utah University (5)
Jessica Chatman, Ridgefield, Washington (Union HS/BYU), So., forward; served in Lansing, Michigan.
Kiana Johnson, Tuscaloosa, Alabama (Northridge HS/Northern Colorado), So., guard; served in Cape Verde, Africa
Whitney Johnson, Highland, Utah (Lone Peak HS/New Mexico), Sr., center; served in Mexico City.
Ashley Larsen, American Fork (American Fork HS/UVU), So., guard/forward; served in Austria and Germany.
Joel Swallow, Flowell, Utah (Millard HS), So., forward; served in England.
University of Utah (3)
David Collette, Murray (Murray HS/Utah State), Sr., forward; served in Charlotte, North Carolina.
Beau Rydalch, Oakley, Summit County (South Summit HS), So., guard; served in Guayaquil, Ecuador.
Parker Van Dyke, Salt Lake City (East HS), Jr., guard; served in Birmingham, Alabama.
Utah State University (7)
Crew Ainge, Wellesley, Massachusetts (Kimball Union Academy), Fr., guard; served in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
Justin Bean, Moore, Oklahoma (Southmoore HS), Fr., forward; served in Reno, Nevada.
Taylor Larson, Highland (American Fork HS/SVU), So., guard; served in Indianapolis.
Sam Merrill, Bountiful (Bountiful HS), Fr., guard, served in Nicaragua.
Brock Miller, Sandy (Brighton HS), Fr., guard; served in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
Abel Porter, Farmington (Davis HS), Fr., guard; served in Russia.
Quinn Taylor, Houston (Langham Creek HS), Jr., forward; served in Sao Paulo.
Utah Valley University (7)
Cory Calvert, Parker, Colorado (Chaparral HS/BYU), Jr., guard; served in Boston.
Britta Spencer, Tualatin, Oregon (Tualatin HS/SJSU), Jr., guard; served in Chile.
Richards Harward, Orem, Utah (Orem HS), Fr., center; served in Australia.
Daniel Nyman, Highland, Utah (American Fork HS/Snow), So., guard; served in Hungary.
Isaac Neilson, Mission Viejo, California (Mission Viejo HS/BYU), Sr., forward; served in Alabama.
Zach Nelson, Yuba City, California (Yuba City HS), Gr., forward; served in Lubbock, Texas.
Conner Toolson, Highland, Utah (Lone Peak HS/SLCC), Jr., guard; served in Fort Worth, Texas.
Weber State (3)
Dusty Baker, Coto de Caza, California (Tesoro HS/Saddleback JC), Sr., guard/forward; served in Denver.
Riley Court, Pleasant Grove, Utah (Pleasant Grove HS), Fr., guard; served in Chile.
Caleb Leonhardt, Kaysville, Utah (Davis HS), Fr., guard; served in Taipei, Taiwan.
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