Chapman Expects Bigger Things Ahead

Associated Press

A season in the limelight at Kentucky hasn't dimmed Rex Chapman's enthusiasm for playing basketball.

"As long as it's fun, I'll keep on playing," he said Monday. "After two or three days of fooling around with the basketball after the season ended and watching the teams left (in NCAA tournament), you can't wait to get back and play."

Chapman averaged 16 points a game in becoming the first freshman to lead Kentucky in scoring. He was named to the Southeastern Conference's All-Freshman team by the league coaches and was an AP second-team selection on the overall team.

The 6-foot-5 guard said he wasn't surprised with his play during the final three months of the season as he helped the Wildcats to an 18-11 record and a spot in the NCAA tournament.

"I didn't anticipate starting off the bat and contributing like I did at the beginning," he said.

Nine times during the season Chapman scored 20 or more points, including three 26-point efforts.

"Once you're in this situation, you're not surprised," he said of his first-year accomplishments. "If somebody had told me this time last year what I would do, I would have told them they were crazy."

He said the game he enjoyed most was the regular-season ending 75-74 victory over Oklahoma.

"We played so well as a team that game," said Chapman. "It was nice playing on a team with friends, and the memories and things you have between each other that you want to remember."

He said he didn't mind the media attention, which included a feature and front-cover photo in Sports Illustrated.

"I wasn't thinking much about it," he said. "It's nice being recognized and everything."

Chapman said he was surprised by some rumors, especially one about him being married.

"I didn't expect it," he said. "But that's something I guess you can expect when you play at Kentucky. But the funny thing is that the first person out and out lied and everybody else passed it on."

But he expects the situation, on and off the court, to ease next season.

"I can't see it more intense than this year," said Chapman.

And he can't wait for the new season to get started.

"I'm looking forward to it," he said. "Going out and playing and concentrating on winning."

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