Emanuel “Poobie” Chapman spent his 26th birthday in China as a professional basketball player. Chapman spent his 27th birthday in his hometown of Raleigh being named the next basketball coach at his Alma mater.
On Monday, Enloe High School selected Chapman as its next basketball coach, bringing him home for his first head coaching job. After graduating from Enloe, Chapman was a star guard for North Carolina Central, leading the Eagles to the NCAA tournament in 2014.
Chapman’s basketball talents took him to foreign countries all around the globe. But his love for the game brought him back home to Raleigh.
“This is like a surreal moment,” Chapman said. “I really reached out as a shot in the dark. I really wasn’t looking to get into coaching this soon, but I couldn’t turn down the chance to coach at my Alma mater.”
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Chapman started his professional career with the Banska Bystrica of the Slovakian Basketball League. When he left NCCU after the 2014 season, he was the school’s all-time leader in assists (617) and second all-time in steals (173). He played in 122 games, starting 65. On Monday, he received a birthday tweet from his former college coach, LeVelle Moton, who posted “NCCU Basketball is Nothing without you.”
Now Chapman will try to leave his mark on an Enloe program that finished 3-20 overall last season. Chapman has spent the last few summers coaching kids throughout the Triangle in an unofficial capacity, but knew he wanted to make sure he was fully invested before taking on a head coaching job.
“I didn’t want to have one foot in playing, and one foot in coaching,” Chapman said. “Once I got the opportunity it was inevitable that this is where my attention is.”
Chapman expects the transition from player to coach to be a smooth one, channeling his inner Jason Kidd, who was a head coach the very next season after he retired from the NBA. Like Kidd, Chapman played point guard and said that makes him a natural coach.
“We direct, we orchestrate a lot of things going on,” Chapman said. “We are extensions of the head coach, so I’ve been the extension of the head coach my whole career, now I’m trying to find an extension of me.”
Chapman said he hopes to return Enloe to its glory days. The Eagles do a have a strong basketball tradition and boast players with NBA ties like P.J. Tucker, Nate McMillan and former lottery pick Chris Wilcox.
“It’s been a rich history,” Chapman said. “One of my main returners is 16 years-old, and he was eight when I graduated. So when they think Enloe basketball, they don’t remember anybody. That’s not a knock to them, that’s just more so on bringing that prestige back.”
Chapman feels zero pressure going into his first job.
“It’s basketball,” Chapman said. “The thing that I’m most looking forward to is helping build this young men. I feel like it’s more important to develop them as young men first then switch over to basketball. It’s lessons in basketball that you can take off the court.”