San Diego State officially announced on Tuesday that they will redshirt freshman forward Zylan Cheatham. The school announced the move in an official release and the No. 78 recruit in the 2014 class will have to wait until next season to make his college basketball debut.
After breaking his foot this summer before arriving at San Diego State, Cheatham had surgery and recently started practicing in December.
“The support he got at home and the advice he got at home was very helpful to him not to have him do all kinds of second guessing, wondering and worrying,” San Diego State head coach Steve Fisher said in the release. “His dad and mom were very good in terms in of, `Zylan, you need to do this, you need to listen, you need to trust, they have your best interest and ultimately, this is best for you.'”
The 6-foot-7 Cheatham has not played this season, this move doesn’t change the current 2014-15 roster outlook for the Aztecs, but the year off does save him a year of eligibility and gives him time to develop.
San Diego State freshman forward Zylan Cheatham has missed the entire season recovering from a Jones fracture and he’s now been able to return to practice. He’s been form-shooting and is beginning to work back into playing shape after surgery in September. According to a report from Mark Zeigler of the San Diego Union-Tribune, Cheatham recently returned to practice and is in the midst of an important week of five-on-five as the Aztecs have a week between games.
Head coach Steve Fisher will decide if Cheatham will redshirt sometime soon, but this week of practice could dictate a fair share of that decision. The freshman will get a chance to see if he can go full-speed with his teammates and see if he can help them out. Fisher would like to know by Dec. 31st when Mountain West Conference play begins.
“The longer you wait, the less likelihood you would say that he would play,” Fisher said to Zeigler. “But I don’t agree with that for sure. I just want to make sure we make the best decision for him/us – him first, us a very close second.”
Fisher will play Cheatham if he can contribute to the rotation, even if it’s later in the season than many freshman generally start. But the coach also doesn’t want to keep Cheatham on the roster if he’s not going to play, so he’ll have to see how he balances this in the next few weeks.
From Zeigler’s story:
“The reason to play him is, he can be in the rotation and help us win,” Fisher said. “To me it’s that simple, if he can. But I don’t know whether that will be cut and dried. That’s where the decision will come in.
“The other side of it is, if you’re uncertain, do you take a chance on playing two minutes a game, three minutes a game, and some games not at all, and cost you a season? You can trade that for a potential fifth (college) season, and you can close your eyes and imagine what that might look like.”
San Diego State mostly needs to find scoring, since its defense is shutting down opponents and regularly getting stops. The problem for Cheatham? The Aztecs are already loaded with talented wings that are of similar size and Cheatham isn’t a major offensive force who can stretch the floor. The 6-foot-7, 205 pound Cheatham is similar size to Winston Shepard, Dwayne Polee II and Malik Pope.
Cheatham was a top-100 talent, so he could be talented enough to crack the rotation and he is a tough and athletic wing who can attack and make some plays on glass.
With star guard Xavier Thames graduating, it was already going to be difficult for Steve Fisher’s San Diego State Aztecs to replicate the fantastic year they had in 2013-2014.
The process will be just that much tougher now that Fisher confirmed what we all pretty much already knew: that two of SDSU’s freshmen, Malik Pope and Zylan Cheatham, will begin the regular season on the shelf.
“We’re going to start the season with our two big freshmen probably unable to play,” Fisher said in a press conference on Tuesday, “and that is for sure Zylan, who came in with a broken foot that we didn’t know he had. Malik, who is making steady progress, is yet to do anything other than being unguarded.”
Cheatham had surgery on the foot in late August and will likely be out at least another two months. Pope is strengthening a leg that he fractured twice while in high school.
“Malik is kind of at our discretion,” Fisher said. “We’ve been taking it a little slower than even he thinks we should. We’ve had him do some 5-on-0 and individual stuff lately, but he hasn’t done any live, competitive stuff, even 1-on-1or that kind of stuff. Hopefully that will be the next step.”
If there is a saving grace here, it’s that both Pope and Cheatham are front court players, which is a position where the Aztecs can afford to take a hit. J.J. O’Brien and Skylar Spencer are both back this season, and Arizona transfer Angelo Chol will be eligible to play as well.
SDSU’s two other freshmen — guards Trey Kell and Kevin Zabo — will join Winston Shepard, Dwayne Polee and Dakarai Allen in trying to replace Thames’ production in the back court.
Despite the fact that some folks looked at the 2013-14 season as one of transition for the San Diego State Aztecs, Steve Fisher’s team won 31 games (and the Mountain West regular season title) and reached the Sweet 16. The reason why it was seen as a year of transition was the pending arrival of a very good recruiting class, which included four-star forward Zylan Cheatham.
Unfortunately for Cheatham he won’t be on the court when the season begins, as it was reported by the San Diego Union-Tribune that the 6-foot-8 freshman broke a bone in his left foot. How long will Cheatham be sidelined? Taking into consideration the rehabilitation process, and the fact that he won’t be able to put any weight on the foot for 6-8 weeks, Cheatham is expected to miss anywhere from three to four months of action.
“I was told the worst thing you can do is not do the surgery,” Fisher said. “So we’re going to do the surgery, put a screw in and the screw will stay in. The second worst thing is to try to come back too quickly. So we’ll just see.”
Unfortunately for San Diego State, Cheatham isn’t the only freshman dealing with health issues. According to the report forward Malik Pope hasn’t done anything more than shoot by himself due to the rehabbing of a leg he fractured twice while in high school. Joining those two in San Diego State’s 2014 recruiting haul are guards Kevin Zabo and Trey Kell.
The Aztecs, who will have to account for the loss of guard Xavier Thames and forward Josh Davis, do return some key pieces from last season’s 31-5 team. Winston Shepard III, Dwayne Polee Jr., J.J. O’Brien and Skylar Spencer lead the way, and it should also be noted that Arizona transfer Angelo Chol will be eligible to give the Aztecs even more depth in the front court.
Steve Fisher landed his fourth commit, continuing to add to the success he’s had on the recruiting trail for his program’s Class of 2014.
South Mountain High (Ariz.) small forward Zylan Cheatham, ranked No. 73 overall in the Class of 2014 by Rivals, committed to San Diego State during a press conference at the Arizona Prep Fall Showcase in Scottsdale on Saturday night.
He was also considering New Mexico and Washington. According to Zeigler, he appeared to be leaning towards New Mexico, following his trip to the Lobos’ midnight madness. Last Tuesday, Fisher met with Cheatham to sway his decision.
“And then Coach Fisher said something,” Cheatham told Mark Zeigler of the San Diego Union-Tribune. “He said: ‘When you close your eyes and dream at night, where do you see yourself?’ That overwhelmed me. That basically took over the process for me … When I was there on my visit, I never forgot that feeling I had. It felt like home. I just knew it was the right place for me.”
The 6-foot-7 small forward is the third commit in the class that ranks in the Rivals150. Each of Fisher’s four commits are all rated as three-star or better, including five-star forward Malik Pope from Laguna Creek High (Calif.), who committed earlier in October. Brewster Academy (N.H.) point guard Kevin Zabo became the first commit in August, followed by Saint Augustine High (Calf.) shooting guard Trey Kell, who picked San Diego State at the beginning of the month.
Cheatham transferred back to South Mountain this season, and is currently waiting for a decision regarding his eligibility to play this season.