Class of 2014 forward Zylan Cheatham is set to make his college decision in the next week or so. He has lowered his choices down to a final three: San Diego State, New Mexico, and Washington. He was previously considering Memphis and Arizona State before cutting down the list. As of now it doesn’t appear that any of the three schools has a significant advantage. No fanbase should be surprised if Cheatham appears in their team’s jersey next November, but no fanbase should be confident that he’ll choose their school.
It’s easy to see why the 6’7″ 200-pound senior from South Mountain High School in Phoenix is struggling to make his decision. Any of the three schools would be a great fit. All three are programs that lack a ton of flash or a blue-blooded history, but all three have also shown a tendency to send players to the NBA on a consistent basis. San Diego State in particular has been built into a great program with a rabid fanbase (and homecourt advantage). On the recruiting front they have already put together what could be a program altering class. After years of doing more with less talent, high-level recruits like Kevin Zabo, Trey Kell, and Malik Pope are already committed. Pope in particular was considered a five-star talent before a broken leg derailed his season. Add Cheatham into that equation and San Diego State would be locked and loaded for the best run in program history.
New Mexico almost seems to be playing the role of the hometown school, despite Cheatham hailing from Arizona. They have been in on his recruiting for a long time, and Cheatham raved on twitter about how well he was treated during his recent visit. He also knows that even compared to SDSU or Washington, his commitment would be seen as extra important, and his chances of immediate contribution would be even higher.
As for Washington, it’s his relationship with Coach Romar that is deemed most key. As is often the case for other recruits, Cheatham wants to play for Romar, and he has surely been sold on Washington’s history of sending players of all types straight to the NBA. A bouncy finisher and an aggressive shot-blocker and rebounder, Cheatham’s value to Washington is obvious. Likely to play power forward for Romar, he would fit perfectly in a system that values attacking speed on offense and intense pressure on defense.
Unanimously rated as a four-star prospect, Cheatham would be the highest-rated member of Washington’s Class of 2014. Already in the fold are power forward Tristan Etienne of Canada and small forward Donaven Dorsey of Lacey, WA.
As stated before, it’s almost foolish to try to predict Cheatham’s decision. It really does look like a three-way tie at this point, and even a commitment wouldn’t be final until a letter of intent is signed. Washington fans have reason to be hopeful, but should also prepare themselves for disappointment, as New Mexico and San Diego State fans have just as much reason for optimism.