Haanif Cheatham: Junior Primer

It's easy to get lost in the shuffle competing against the slew of big-time talents in the Sunshine State, but Cheatham is elevating his stock as the spring approaches.

We can't be angry with you for possibly not knowing the name Haanif Cheatham, but if that's still the case by the end of summer, we might be.

Tongue in cheek remarks aside, Cheatham has pieced together a huge junior season. He's averaging 26 points, eight rebounds and five assists per game at the 6A level, and thus those numbers carry a substantial weight. He has impressed local fans who aren't always easy to impress, and he'll enter the travel season with significant momentum.

His superlative junior season hasn't arrived as a complete shock. He missed extensive time last summer with Nike Team Florida due to a deep leg muscle injury, and therefore he didn't get to fully display his wares before the eyes of college coaches.

Additionally, after playing with heralded teammates Justin Satchell and Prince Ali a year ago, Cheathan has been able to step into a far more assertive scoring role. He obviously has adapted very well, and as long as he remains undecided his recruiting attention likely will balloon.

I couched that last sentenced with an "as long as" intentionally. Cheatham told me last fall that he might commit within a few weeks, and while that didn't happen he clearly was happy to hold the offers he already did. He also has undertaken an aggressive stance during the season by taking an official visit to Alabama. That said, he now may wait until after the summer travel season to make his choice.

In addition to the Crimson Tide, Georgia, Vanderbilt, Pittsburgh and others reportedly have stepped forward with offers. Clearly, it's not only fans who have taken notice of his breakthrough 2013-14 campaign.

Cheatham's game boasts wide-range utility. He's a fine handler and smooth athlete with a southpaw jump shot that extends to the three-point stripe. He possesses some explosiveness as well, which enables him to be a multi-dimensional scorer. His playmaking ability is excellent for a 6-5 guard, though defensively I strongly prefer him as a wing rather than a point.

He'll need to gain strength and simply migrate his high school play to the travel circuit. If he can navigate that transition successfully, he could make a push for a safe spot in the national top 100 by the end of summer.

Scout Hoops Top Stories