Adidas Super 64 Q&A - Zylan Cheatham

LAS VEGAS - It's AAU time, which means the big three tournaments - the Fab 48, the Las Vegas Classic and the Adidas Super 64 are all happening this week. Dawgman.com's Kim Grinolds caught up with Arizona hooper Zylan Cheatham, who helped his Arizona Magic Pump 'N Run team to a first-round win at the Adidas Super 64 late Wednesday night.

Which gyms are hotter - Arizona or Vegas? - "Oh my God…I'm going to have to go with Vegas. Our weather is probably a little hotter, but this gym…scary. But I mean, this gym is hot and has a smell to it, it gets to you."

Does it feel to you like you're right in the middle of the fire with AAU and recruiting and everything else right now? - "Yeah. Sometimes it seems like that. Now it's starting to get near the end, near a decision, so it's a lot easier."

Of all the coaches over there on the sidelines, how many of them were looking at you? - "A majority of them. I've seen a majority of the head coaches that have been recruiting me and I have been in contact with. They are hearing that I'm narrowing my list down, so they are coming out. I'm seeing all the faces that I usually see and things like that. I think I had offers from the majority of schools that were there."

Who was here? - "Memphis, Washington, San Diego State…those are some of the faces I caught. New Mexico, I don't know who else was here but I'm sure it was some more."

Do you normally struggle with free throws? - "I'm not the best free throw shooter, but I don't normally shoot that bad. We're so used to playing with the Nike balls and all that…I can make a thousand excuses, but I just have to get better than that. It was a tough day for me."

Was expecting to see more of an alpha male out there today - "I don't know…I was kind of in a slump. I didn't have the energy I usually have. Everything that happened this game and I didn't play as well as I should have, I didn't feel as good as I should have…those are all things you learn from. We got the win, so I'm going to bounce back tomorrow."

You handled the ball a lot better than I expected - "Yeah, yeah…I was still a little shaky today, all my guards were saying how they were a little shaky out there handling the ball. It felt like you were handling a little plastic (ball) or something…but I limited my turnovers today, made some good passes, made some bad passes…it's all a learning experience."

It looked like there were times where you could have taken over the game if you wanted to - "I usually do. I had a spurt today where I got a layup and then passed it in, passed it back and got a dunk. Got to the free throw line on the next play and made one, missed one and then I got taken out. I'm in spurts, but usually I take over a game in a situation like that. I've got to get back to that and get better from it."

Everyone asks about the origins of your first name… - "I was originally going to be named Tyler, but she figured it was too common. She wanted to be unique. Someone threw Zylan out there…I wouldn't have thought of it, but someone threw it out there and she liked it. We went with it."

Is the recruiting process starting to wear on you a little bit? Do you ever feel like you want to end the process sooner, rather than later? - "At times you do, but it's a blessing. It always feels good to be wanted. A lot of kids would want to be in my position, but at this point there's no sense of prolonging. I just want to start talking business now and focus in on my last club season. It's coming to an end soon too, so it's time for business."

Who is helping you out? - "My trainer, Gabe Stevens, and of course my Mother and my family and things like that."

Tell me more about Gabe Stevens - "He's a trainer. He used to coach Westwind's post-grad team last year. He's just kind of a friend/mentor and that extra brain and experienced mind. I pick his brain and learn things from him. He helps me out and helps me with everything as far as knowledge, information…he works me out, things like that."

With people coming at you from all different directions, is it hard to know who to trust in the process? - "There's a lot of guys I'm starting to hear from and everyone wants to work you out and help you out with this but it's like, 'Where have you been?' It's always good to have that guy you can trust and you know they have your best interests at heart. He doesn't lie to me. If I play terrible I know he's going to tell me I played terrible. If I play good he's going to tell me I played good. It's always good having that in your corner."

What would he tell you about tonight? - "He'd be on me pretty bad. He'd get on me about my energy and my free throws of course, because I shoot so many a day. He'd get on my overall game, point out the good parts and how I was active on defense and had some good stops, but other than that I didn't play my game at all today by any means."

And then there was that foul at the end… - "Oh my God, I literally don't know what I was doing. I know what I was thinking about and what I wanted to do. I knew the guy wasn't going to make the free throws, so I wanted to foul him. So I fouled him but he kept on running so I held on and they called it intentional. He did what I thought he was going to do - he air-balled the first free throw and missed the second. It played out after that."

How is the next month or so going to play out for you? - "A lot of research, a lot of talking to people, picking peoples' brains, seeing what I want to do and narrowing my list down…talking to some guys and letting some guys know that I'm going in a different direction than their school and thanks for recruiting me. There will be some visits in the next few months and a decision here…I want to make a decision in November."

And what does Mom want? - "Mom is selfish…of course she wants me to stay home but she doesn't really get involved. She knows I'm the one that has to go to school and play there. She takes a back seat to it, but she's always open to hear what I want to say and help me with things that happen off the court.

It sounds like Gabe sets you straight on the court and your Mom keeps you straight off the court - "Yeah. She doesn't really get involved with my basketball. She cares and she's my number-one fan, but she's not going to be a harsh critic. Everyone needs that guy that's going to set you straight. As good as you think you played, they are going to bring you back to earth. That's where Gabe comes in."

What are you really looking to find in your research? - "Support, definitely. Schools that I've heard from consistently are definitely going to have the upper hand over schools that are just coming in or things like that. Of course style of play, of course history - I want to know what schools have done with a player like me. I plan on being an impact freshman with a lot of work. My game is not even close to where it needs to be. I need to put in a lot more work, but I just want a fair shot at being able to do big things as a freshman."

What schools? Don't make me ask… - "You've got to ask me." (laughs)

Have you narrowed it down a little bit? - "Yeah. I've thought about it. Me and Gabe sat down and did our research - he did some research for me, like attendance, coaching - we went through everything, all the way down to the nitty gritty. We sat down and talked about it and there's some schools I definitely feel like are going to make my 8 or 10 or whatever. I'm giving it a few days; I'm going to do it Friday here for sure, possibly before that. I have a pretty good idea."

Any hints? - "Yeah, there are some schools…I'll give you a hint: the majority of schools that were here today are going to be on my eight."

Is there still any growth to you physically? - "Yeah. I'm supposed to be somewhere around 6-9, 6-9.5, 6-10 when I get done."

Are you having fun? - "Always. You always have to have fun. Today wasn't that much fun for me though. I'm usually a lot better than that. I'm sorry you had to see that. Usually I'm smiling on the court, making good passes, bringing good energy, blocking shots and running the floor…but I don't know what it was. Maybe it was the five-hour car drive that took a toll or something. We got the win, that's all that matters."

As you're leaving, it looks like they have water, Gatorade, or ice cream…which one are you grabbing? - "Whew…! Tough one. Probably Gatorade I would say…get some calcium back in me. Can I take two?

Zylan Cheatham Scout.com Profile


Dawgman.com Top Stories