Cheatham Set To Visit Montlake

Six-foot-seven Zylan Cheatham often visits the rarified air around hoops at AAU tournaments throughout the country, but strangely enough isn't a fan of heights. So when the Arizona basketball star lands in Seattle for his official visit to the University of Washington this weekend, he won't be making the trek up the 605-foot Space Needle.

"See, now that's not something I'm not looking forward to," Cheatham told this week as he was getting ready for his trip up north. "I don't do well with heights. That's not my cup of tea."

This visit, the second to Seattle for Cheatham in the last four months - the other one was back at the end of June for the first-ever Washington Alumni Game - will be his second official visit. His first official visit came earlier this month when he traveled to San Diego State.

"It was just extremely fun," Cheatham said of the visit to SDSU. "I hung out with guys and got to get the college experience a little bit and getting around people and stuff like that. It was my first taste of interacting with college life. I had a blast. I jung out with some of the freshmen and kind of saw how these guys live. Being that I'll be in that position as a freshman next year it was kind of a learning experience for me."

The visit, according to Cheatham, was a blend of business and pleasure. "They didn't overwhelm me with straight business and lock me in a room and try and get me to commit or anything," he said. "They mixed it up pretty well. I had my time for business and sitting down and watching film and all that stuff, but I also had my time to get out with the guys and kind of get an experience seeing what's what. So it was kind of both in one."

Cheatham added that he will take one more official visit - to New Mexico - before making his verbal commitment and signing during the early basketball signing period in November. He tweeted earlier that his visit to Albuquerque would be during the weekend of October 11th.

In the meantime, Cheatham told Dawgman what he's looking forward to on his official visit to Seattle and Washington. Ironically enough, it's during the weekend where the Washington football team hosts Arizona.

"At this point I'm just liking to see what life would be like if I was a Washington commit," said Zylan. "I want to see what the fan base is like, what the people are like, how they treat the guys. I'm looking forward to seeing what kind of guys are on the team, what kind of characteristics they have, what kind of attitudes and mentality they have…just see where everyone's heads are at. I'm looking forward to spending some time with T.J. (Otzelberger), (Lorenzo) Romar, coach Chill…just basically seeing what's what, seeing more of the campus and the city life, getting some workouts in and eating some good food."

It appears as if Cheatham is a fan of three squares a day, and maybe even more. "It's a big part of it, I can't lie," he said when talking about all the food offered up during official visits. "It kind of depends on the day, though. I'm not a picky eater. I switch it up on a day-by-day basis. I hear Seattle has some real fresh seafood and stuff like that, so I'm actually looking forward to getting a taste of that and seeing what all those guys on my Twitter posts are talking about. I'm definitely excited about that."

During open gym, it should be interesting to see how Cheatham's game meshes with the other players out on the court. Some people want to pigeonhole him as a power forward; others think he's a small forward. If Cheatham had his way, he'd simply defy description. He's not Brandon Roy, but at the same time he has the ability to provide whatever is needed at any given moment.

"I don't like it when these writers…they kind of have their judgements on my game and I think at the end of the day I'm the one playing and I'm the one that knows what I can do," Cheatham said. "My opponents know what I can do. If they don't they'll find out pretty soon. I really see myself as not really having a position. I'm all over the court. 1,2,3…whatever my team needs, I'm extremely versatile and I'm a mis-match problem. I'm tough to guard and tough to scout, because I can do so many different things and I can impact the game in so many different ways. I think that's what makes me a high commodity at this point."

Don't get it twisted, though - Cheatham isn't one of those taller players that is strictly an outside-in talent. "I actually thrive off of contact," he said. "Contact is where I get a lot of my will to do things on the court. When I'm feeling things and I'm in the air and getting hit and stuff like that - that's kind of what I live for. I can dribble-penetrate, whatever. Defensively, I think that's what sets me apart from a lot of guys. I'm a really physical person and I like to guard guys and get in guys and stuff like that. Guys don't like it; I mean, who really does like it when a guy who is 6-8 with a 7-1 wingspan is just as fast as you are if you're a guard and as soon as you try and put up a shot it's blocked and stuff like that? I think my level of physicality…I don't shy away from a challenge or anything like that. I think all of that plays a role in my success at this point."

Having prepped at Westwind Academy, Cheatham recently switched back to South Mountain when it became evident that his academy classes wouldn't transfer over as NCAA eligible. "At first I wouldn't say it was overwhelming but it was always going to be extremely annoying taking classes that you already passed," he said. "I've developed and inherited a mentality that I'm not thinking about what happened; I'm just going through the motions and doing it and not complaining about it, not thinking twice about it. I'm keeping myself busy in the gym in my spare time so I don't really have a lot of time to complain and whine and get frustrated. I think I'm handling it pretty well."

Not only is Cheatham retaking classes, but his basketball eligibility is still pending. There's a chance he may not be able to play for South Mountain his senior year, but he's still hopeful for a positive outcome from the AIA (Arizona Interscholastic Association). "I'll find out this coming month," he said. "Things are looking pretty good at this point - they don't have a valid reason to not let me play. But it's not set in stone that I'm playing, so I'm not assuming anything."

Add to that these official visits, and there's plenty on Cheatham's plate to chew on. "It's a process," he said. "It has been a long process though, seeing a lot of guys tying the knot at this point and kind of making me think that I've only got a little bit…it's kind of getting down to crunch time now and I'm feeling like I can't wait to commit and be done with the whole thing, man."

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