Ballin’ since birth: Sac State basketball players aligned since day one

Sacramento natives have played with each other since elementary school


Alexis Hunt

(L-R) Rick Barros III and Zach Chappell in The Nest before practice Nov. 17, 2022. The duo have played both high school and college basketball together in Sacramento.

Nathan Uebelhoer

Zach Chappell was born at Sacramento Methodist Hospital off Stockton Boulevard on April 7, 2000. He now plays basketball for the Sacramento State Hornets.

Rick Barros III was born at Sacramento Methodist Hospital off Stockton Boulevard on April 7, 2000. He now plays basketball for the Sacramento State Hornets.

Do you see the similarities there?

Chappell and Barros have known each other their whole lives. They said they can’t even remember when they first met.

“We’ve just always played with each other at basketball camps or at the gym,” Chappell said. “It probably was in elementary school when we were really little.”

Chappell said they would play at Hardwood Palace in Rocklin or at Basketball Town — the once 50,000-square-foot gym — in Rancho Cordova. 

They played tournaments together, always maintaining the same group of friends.

The two eventually went to Capital Christian High School in Rosemont and played on the varsity team for the duration of their high school careers.

Chappell started his college career at San Jose State, while Barros went to Nation Wide Academy in Oklahoma after graduating high school.

Chappell said it wasn’t the best basketball atmosphere out in San Jose, which made him consider a transfer to Sac State. 

“It was really rough in San Jose on the basketball side,” Chappell said, “We were losing a lot and I knew Coach Katz, who I built a relationship with growing up, and also Coach Laird.”

Chappell then called Barros for advice on making the move.

“When I entered the transfer portal and was considering coming here, I called Rick and I was like, ‘Hey, I’m talking to Coach Katz. What’s the deal? Would you want to play with me again?’” Chappell said. “Right away, he said, ‘Yeah, let’s do it.’”

On the court, Chappell is a starter for the Hornets with two years under his belt in that position. He’s scored an average of 15.7 points-per-game and 3.1 rebounds. 

He’s a returning starter, an obligation he said he takes pride in. He said his main responsibility is to be a voice for his fellow players.

“College basketball has a lot of ups and downs,” Chappell said. “Guys go in and out of slumps; they have trouble with different things. And so, for me being an older guy, it’s up to me to manage the focus of the team.”

Offering a juxtaposition, Barros has had an up-and-down career dealing with injuries. 

He missed the entirety of both playing seasons 2019-2022 with injuries to his ankle and ACL. 

Barros is still technically an athletic sophomore because of the two injuries. Despite his basketball future remaining up in the air, Barros has maintained a supportive and positive attitude that helps his teammates thrive when they need to most.

“Honestly Rick as a person, I would say he’s tenacious,” junior guard Teiano Hardee said. “As an athlete going through what he’s going through with injuries, I have so much respect for him not only as a brother but just a person in general because a lot of athletes, if they were in his shoes, would have been given up.”

Last season, Barros only played 19 games total in his college career. In those games, he scored 51 total points.

Tenacity in his blood, Barros said he’ll do “whatever it takes” to continue his basketball career.

“[I’m] just keep pushing for myself, but also for my younger teammates,” Barros said. “I’m just gonna keep helping them.”