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.