Zylan Cheatham hasn’t always been a basketball player.
"In 6th grade, I actually got cut from the team, and you know, I was crying and stuff. In 7th grade, I only made the team because I was athletic and could play defense, but I had no offensive skills whatsoever. I was a football player. I didn’t really start playing until my freshman year".
But here we are now, with Zylan about to begin his senior season as one of the most highly regarded recruits in the country: Cheatham is ranked 75th overall by ESPN, 76th overall by Rivals, and 56th overall by 247sports. The 6’8", 205 pound forward says he’s often compared to Lebron James, "because we’re about the same height, as far as versatility and guarding multiple positions, as well as getting your team involved, we have those similarities."
While some may look at Cheatham’s size and declare him a power forward, Zylan doesn’t see it that way. "I’m more of a wing, or an all-around type of player. I don’t really want to be in one set position, or doing one set thing, because I’m a very versatile player. I want the opportunity to exploit offensive and defensive match ups." In addition to his versatility on both the offensive and defensive end, Zylan’s other strengths on the court include "court vision, athleticism, and strength".
Given how new he is to the game, the mechanics on Zylan’s jump shot are a little off, but he says he’s spending his summer trying to improve his jump shot, and he did see some improvement this past week at the Lebron James Skills Academy.
In terms of his recruitment, Cheatham is getting interest from all over the country, including 27 offers from the likes of Georgetown, New Mexico, Miami, Washington and Oregon.
So what is the Arizona native looking for in his school of choice? "Style of play is one of the biggest, fan support, nobody likes playing in an empty gym, "place", somewhere I can have some fun off the court, coaching staff, I want to go somewhere where I’ll be used the right way." And while Miami may be a bit far from home, Zylan assured me that distance won’t be a factor in his decision.
Cheatham hasn’t narrowed his list yet, but he plans to do so "Probably after Peach Jam [editors note: Peach Jam is going on right now], or maybe at the end of July. After that I’ll narrow it down again when my senior season starts, then I’ll take my visits." Asked if he thinks Miami will get one of the visits, Cheatham replied "It’s possible, once I narrow my list down, I’m very interested in Miami, so it’s definitely possible."
Cheatham will make his final decision on November 17th, which is his birthday.
Follow Zylan on twitter at @1KingZ4, and me on twitter @Isaac_Koppel.