Future150 Southeast Analyst. Covering high school basketball across the Southeast.
Phoenix, AZ (Future150) -- It is known that the West Coast doesn’t necessarily receive the same amount of love the East Coast gets year-round. But when a big commodity breaks out west, it spreads like a wildfire. Pencil in 2014 Westwind Prep (AZ) wing Zylan Cheatham as a prime example.
Cheatham has transformed into one of the hottest names in the Pacific, with tons of college interest coming his way. To this point, he holds several offers, including New Mexico, Arizona State, Memphis, Utah, Colorado, Boise State, and California, among others.
“I’m also receiving interest from Kentucky, Syracuse, NC State, Indiana, Arizona and some others,” he told Future150.com.
While these types of schools are just another day for top players in the country, circumstances still feel surreal for the junior, who never pictured himself making it to where he is now.
“Two years ago, people didn’t believe I had the chance to become a guard. I had a lot of people doubting me,” Cheatham explained. “I never imagined me getting this much interest. It is because of the countless mornings of getting up at five o’clock in the morning and going to the gym and working out.”
As for those that didn’t believe the 6-foot-7 forward could transition to a perimeter prospect, they are now a thing of the past. With his size and athleticism, Cheatham is being coveted because of one main aspect to his game.
“I think it’s my versatility. I’ve always been athletic, but now I can guard the 1-3. I have the skills to play on the perimeter. But when it comes down to it, I’m just thankful for the opportunity. God has blessed me with great opportunities.”
The long athlete is taking advantage of the opportunities to say the least. With tons of different schools coming in, it can be hard to differentiate schools from others. Cheatham claims no favorites right now, but he did say one school is working the hardest.
“New Mexico is definitely recruiting me the hardest. I talk to the entire coaching staff, but it means a lot to me that Coach [Steve] Alford takes the time out of his day to talk to me personally. I feel like I am a priority for them. It means a lot,” he noted.
Many eyebrows were raised a few months ago when Kentucky assistant Orlando Antigua made the trip out to Westwind Prep to watch the talented player in a workout. There was no offer extended, but the discussion the two has gone a long way for Cheatham.
“Coach [Orlando] Antigua told me he wanted to see how I reacted when I played against someone of my skill-level, size, and athleticism. He told me to keep working and some of the things that I needed to be working on, and that he would be following me in the future. The constructive criticism he gave me meant a lot. He is a great coach, so it’s hard to not listen to what he was saying.”
The forward also had a last-second visit to Arizona on Thursday, a visit that he had high praise for; no other visits are planned right now, but if a visit is convenient, Cheatham could make a quick stop for an unofficial in the next month or so.
A decision is still a long time from now for Cheatham, but he has a specific date in mind for a commitment.
“November 17th. That’s when I will commit. It is my birthday and I’ve always dreamed of making a decision on my birthday.”
Cheatham continues to prove his doubters wrong, and as he does, he continues to be implemented in rankings and rising to the top.
He is a four-star and ranked No. 58 overall in the 2014 Future150 rankings.