Cheatham Set on Alumni Game Visit

With over 25 offers and a recent trip to Italy representing his country, it's been a good summer already for Zylan Cheatham, a 6-foot-8, 205-pound forward with a 7-foot-1 wingspan. Only 17 years old, Cheatham expects to get even bigger. He talked to Wednesday about a trip planned this weekend that could affect the 2014 prospect's recruitment.

"If God willing I should be around 6-9 and I should be around 215-220-ish," Cheatham, who preps at Westwind Academy in Phoenix, said when asked how big he expects to be when he enrolls in college. "I'm pretty sure my wingspan will grow some more. I've got heart and the mentality to win and the drive. I think that separates me from a lot of guys."

What else would we see from Cheatham out on the court? "You'd definitely see an immense amount of versatility," he added. "I do a lot of different things…a guy who plays with great energy, has great passion for the game. You can tell he just loves to play…very athletic - shot-blocker, dunker…can guard numerous positions, creates for his teammates very well, has great court vision. Like I said, he plays hard - he never takes plays off."

Even though Cheatham has a forward's body, his versatility allows him to make an impact all over the floor. "I'm not really a great shooter at this point; my shot is still coming along," he said. "But in terms of ball-handling and things like that, I play like a guard - 1,2,3,4…whatever."

He can handle the ball, but Cheatham can also handle his business in the paint too, especially when it comes to rebounding. "Whatever you gotta do, you've got to get that ball," he said, matter-of-factly.

Cheatham also takes a lot of pride in his defense. "Defense wins games, simple as that," he said. "I love taking pride in my defense and shutting down and clamping guys up, making it tough for them to score. I get down and dirty on defense, block shots, get in front of guys. When I get steals and things I like to get on the fast break and look for teammates or myself."

His recent trip to Italy to play international hoops was a little bit of a culture shock for Cheatham, but in a good way. "It was a great experience," he said. "Obviously not a lot of kids get to go on it so I looked at it as a blessing. It was great competition. We were in front of all NBA scouts. We played hard. We lost, but they out-matched us in every aspect of the game and we still competed. We were in a lot of the games. Like I said it was a great experience for me."

How things were done in Italy compared to the United States, like food, were definitely noticed and appreciated by Cheatham. "Being over there - just everything they do is a lot different from how we do things," he said. "Their pizza has less cheese and sauce - it's just bread and topping and a little bit of cheese. Our pizzas here - a lot of tomato sauce and a lot of cheese. It was an adjustment I had to make…it was kind of hard looking at some of the spaghetti and the pastas when I got back to America."

When it comes to recruiting, Cheatham has a ton of suitors, and the offers keep on coming. "I actually got two more yesterday - LMU and the University of San Francisco," he said.

Cheatham is planning on signing early, so is he already thinking of favorites before he officially puts pen to paper in mid-November? "I wouldn't say a school…I'm not favoring any school at this point," he said. "I wouldn't say a school is on my mind more than any other schools. But there are a few schools that are actually recruiting me harder than a lot of the other schools; Washington, San Diego State, USC, New Mexico, Texas - schools like that…Georgetown. Those are schools that are talking to me on a consistent basis. I wouldn't say they are on my mind, but I talk to them more. I haven't narrowed my list down at this point."

Despite not listing favorites, Cheatham is working on that. A trip to Seattle this weekend to visit the school and see the first ever Washington Alumni Game should answer some questions and give him a great glimpse into the Huskies' rich legacy of putting players into the NBA, as well as what the future holds for the program. "I've been talking to coach (Lorenzo) Romar and coach T.J. (Otzelberger)," said Cheatham. "They are great guys. My trainer knows T.J. well, actually. I think he's going up there to visit anyway. Me and him were talking and I told him that I wanted to visit. I had to save up a little money but I wanted to go and see what Washington is all about. Romar is a great guy and Washington is actually a program I'm seriously considering. I felt it was a need to make it a priority.

"My trainer Gabe Stevens is coming up with me. Me and him are pretty much closer than anyone else at this point. He helps me with a lot of this and gives me a lot of basketball knowledge and stuff because he knows a lot more than I do obviously. So he's helping me though this process."

Does Cheatham know any of the Washington players? "I don't know any college players," he said. "I'm actually a friend of Ahmaad Rorie, but he lives in Tacoma. I think he was high on Washington's recruiting board until he committed to Cal."

What is Cheatham expecting on his first visit to the Emerald City? "I'm definitely excited to see the game," he said. "Other than that I'm pretty much expecting to see support, getting to meet the coaches more, getting to sit down and talk with them…seeing the campus and seeing what Washington is like, just getting out of Arizona for a while.

"I'm excited to get up to Washington."

And what about the rest of his summer? With a late fall decision looming, is he going to see any other campuses? "I don't have any other visits planned," he said. "Toward the end of July and early August I'll start narrowing down list down and that's when I'll start taking officials."

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