When I first laid eyes on this young man as a freshman prospect at St. Mary's High School, I knew he would become a great talent for the future. I have scouted the state's best basketball talent since 1995, and have seen hundreds of the state's best prospects develop over time. While I have observed and also coached and personally developed such NBA talents as Jerryd Bayless (Memphis Grizzlies), Isaiah Thomas (Sacramento Kings) and Luis Ahmundson (New Orleans Hornets), I have not seen a talent with as much size, athleticism and ability as Westwind Prep's 6-foot-8 junior guard/forward Zylan Cheatham.
Not since former Moon Valley HS superstar Richard Jefferson (Golden State Warriors) graced the Arizona hardwood, has there been a player as big and as skilled as Cheatham.
Cheatham showcased just how good he has become in this weekend's Southwest Showcase Main Event, as he carried his Arizona Magic Pump N'Run-2014 squad to a tournament championship in the event's top 17U Platinum Division. Cheatham's performance, which was exemplary and dominant, to say the least, capitvated the large audiences in attendance for each of his games throughout the event. Cheatham would be selected as the Tournament's Most Valuable Player as a result of his stellar performance in the event.
Cheatham handled the basketball like a point guard, made on-point passes to open teammates for baskets, shot the basketball with range and put on a long highlight reel of dunks over defenders - so many times that when he didn't dunk it was almost disappointing for the fans in attendance.
"He is the best player I have seen in this state since Jerryd Bayless and you can print that," said Mountain Pointe HS head coach Hoseah Graham.
Cheatham, who is currently rated among the top 50 prospects in America's 2014 class by numerous national scouting services, looks to be much better than that. In fact, this young prospect could become a Top 20 nationally ranked player by summer's end with a strong spring and summer performance. If this weekend's performance is any indication, it is just a matter of time.
Cheatham currently holds offers from Arizona State, Memphis, Indiana, Gonzaga, UNLV, Miami, Nebraska, Purdue, Colorado, Oregon State, New Mexico, Utah State, Northern Arizona, Boise State, Colorado State, Utah and Southern Utah. This is just a small list of schools that will soon be in hot pursuit of this superb talent.
The sky seems to be the limit for Cheatham, as he has quickly risen, in the minds of many basketball scouts, to the top of Arizona’s very loaded 2014 class. Cheatham’s most impressive attribute is his serious length, athleticism and high skill level. He has really improved his shooting ability a great deal, but still needs to improve the consistency on his shot from deeper range on the floor. Cheatham is now handling the basketball like a guard and has shown a great deal of versatility as a player.
Over the past two years, Cheatham has worked hard in the weight room to add some serious muscular size to his once very thin frame - an attribute that now allows him to overpower his opponents.
"I have really worked hard on my body and my game," said Cheatham. "I'm just going to keep on my hard. I will never stop working."
Cheatham advised me that he still does not plan to make his decision on a college anytime soon, and would rather take his time in making his decision for college. His plan is to take his official recruiting visits in the fall and then make his college decision on his birthday, November 17th.