Cheatham has a date

AUGUSTA, Ga. — Six schools remain in contention for Haanif Cheatham, one of the stars from opening night at the Elite Youth Invitational. The Florida product features an impressive and diverse list of finalists.

The Haanif Cheatham recruitment has entered its final phase, with six programs locked in and one winner to emerge in the early fall.

"I'm going to announce on September 5th, the day before my birthday," Cheatham said. "My finalists are Marquette, Florida State, Baylor, Georgia, Georgetown and California. All of them have offered."

Cheatham projects as a starter for any of those six. He has become stronger and along with that has cultivated a more aggressive and physical slashing style. A southpaw, he possesses nimble feet and finishes well on the move via short bankers and fullspeed baseline drives. His jump shot also is workable to 22 feet, and his ball skills are excellent for wing forward and at least adequate for shooting guard.

Parsing out commonalities among his six contenders appears difficult. This is a case where a player has progressed through his recruitment relying primarily on external factors rather than those that are more intrinsic, such as geography, academics or tradition.

"I picked those six schools because I think I can make an immediate impact at all of those places," Cheatham said. "I have a comfortable relationship with all of the head coaches."

But that's hardly the trick, is it? While the reasons Cheatham culled his pursuers to six has clarity, ultimately he gets to choose only one. Though he isn't ready to tip his hand, he does have a sense of what will shape the winner.

"I'm going to look at what (head) coach stays most in touch with me," he said. "I'm also big on academics and just looking at the overall fit."

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