With everything still up in the air about the academic situation at Westwind Prep Academy, athletically gifted 6-foot-8 senior forward Zylan Cheatham has decided to leave the program and return to his former high school program - South Mountain High School.
Cheatham played his sophomore season at South Mountain after spending his freshman season at St. Mary's High School. Cheatham left St. Mary's due to the financial obligation that was requirted of the school's students, but then only decided to leave South Mountain for Westwind Prep after his sophomore season for an opportunity to develop as a player and play better competition.
Cheatham worked hard in the classroom during his sophomore year at South Mountain HS, in an attempt to make up class credits that he lost when he left St. Mary's HS. Cheatham took a full course load and also attended night school courses to make up for any lost credit hours.
Last season as a junior, Cheatham developed a great deal as a player - emerging as the state's top wing prospect and taking over the top spot in the 2014 class player rankings for Arizona. Cheatham developed physically and mentally while living away from home for the year and competing daily with many of the state's top prospects.
Cheatham became a household name nationally this club season, while competing on the spring and summer club circuit. Cheatham would share time with the Nike-sponsored Cal Supreme (CA) and also the Arizona Magic, and also would have a good performance at the Lebron James Skills Academy in Vegas in early July. As a result, Cheatham would see his college recruitment take off a great deal - receiving numerous scholarship offers. Cheatham would receive offers from such programs as Texas, Arizona State, Arkansas, Washington, Washington State, USC, Oregon, Cal, 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 week, Cheatham decided to narrow his list of college programs to eight different schools, deciding that he will make his decision from the following 8 programs this fall: Arizona State, Washington, USC, Oregon, Memphis, Miami, New Mexico and San Diego State - in no particular order.
Recently, with his college recruitment still in the balance and the academic situation at Westwind Prep under the review of the NCAA, Cheatham decided to not wait on the ruling of the NCAA, and, instead, move back to South Mountain HS where he will finish out his senior season - but not without remorse over the work that lies ahead for him.
"Man, this is my senior year and I should be relaxing - instead I'm having to take a full course load," said Cheatham. "I'm taking classes that I already took at Westwind last year. I worked hard last year and did all the work, and now I have to retake some of the same classes again. I'm taking classes with juniors and I'm a senior. It's embarassing."
The NCAA did rule this week that the classes taken by last year's students at Westwind Prep were not premitted by NCAA standards, so student athletes at the program, such as Cheatham, will need to retake their course work again this year. For Cheatham, it means that he will have a tough course load this year.
"Other kids are going home from school at 2(pm), and I'm having to go to school until 5(pm) - it is depressing," said Cheatham.
Cheatham is very confident that he will be fine academically after his senior season, and will be prepared to enter college next fall at the school of his choice, but it will be a trying year for the talented prospect and his family.