SDSU Basketball: Aztec 2014 recruiting class overview

USA TODAY Sports

We all know by now who's coming to Montezuma Mesa next year. Here's a look at their scouting reports and their chances of playing time in 2014-15.

The national college basketball signing period begins today. Most in the SDSU community know who will come to Montezuma Mesa next year: shooting guard Trey Kell, point guard Kevin Zabo, small forward Malik Pope and power forward Zylan Cheatham.

According to ESPN, SDSU successfully recruited four out of the seven players it made offers to. ESPN also ranks SDSU's 2014 class, thought of as SDSU's best class in its history, 16th in the country.

Here's a look at each recruit's ESPN scouting report (full of strengths, weaknesses and overall thoughts) and their chances to play in 2014-15.

PF Zylan Cheatham (6'7", 200 pounds) Phoenix, Ariz.

From ESPN Insider:

"Strengths:

Long arms, big hands, and D-I athleticism describes this young thoroughbred. He is exceptional in the open court due to his clever handle and slick passing. He has the skill and basketball acumen to get into the lane at will and finish or drop off a pass to an open teammate. His vision is impeccable and his decision making in traffic can be high-level at times.

Weaknesses:

Cheatham is a consistent jump shot away from being ranked among the nations elite. He slings his shot and as a result it's quite erratic and inconsistent. In addition, he needs to continue to improve his point guard skills in the half court set. Game management, pick and rolls/pops, and running a team will elevate his stock.

Bottom Line:

Cheatham will be a heavily recruited prospect due to his length, skill, and athleticism. His point forward skills are very intriguing."

Will he play?

Cheatham, a four-star recruit and ESPN's 82nd best recruit, plays a lot like Winston Shepard on the court. He's a big, tall guy who can handle the ball just as well as he can hog the paint for a defensive rebound. Shepard and J.J. O'Brien sit ahead of Cheatham on the depth chart next year, but he'll most likely get around 10-15 minutes a game to start the season.

SF Malik Pope (6'8", 210 pounds) Elk Grove, Calif.

From ESPN Insider:

"Strengths:

Pope just oozes potential at the wing position. The willowy 3-man runs like a deer, handles the ball like a guard, and possesses catapult-like explosiveness. He has a quick 1st step and he has a nice floater as well. He rebounds well in his area and can lead the break due to his nifty handle and astute court vision. He handed out a number of high-level passes and he can knock down the 3-point shot.

Weaknesses:

His game is still rough around the edges and he plays too fast, but the upside is evident. Once he implements a jump stop and plays fundamentally sound (grabbing rebounds with two hands) his game will go to another level. In addition, he needs to continue to tighten his jump shot (erratic release) to keep his driving game going.

Bottom Line:

Pope is one of the elite wing prospects in the country. If he is willing to work on his ball skills and decision making his upside is tremendous. UCLA, USC, Arizona, Washington, Gonzaga, and host of others are monitoring his progress."

Will he play?

Pope is SDSU's most highly regarded recruit--Rivals.com rates him the 17th best prospect in the country. ESPN bumped him down to 55th best because a leg injury prevented him from playing his entire senior season at Laguna Creek High School. But when he's healthy, he's the full package: quick, strong, athletic, inside presence, perimeter presence, tough in the lane, can knock down a jump shot--oh yeah, and he's 6'8". He reminds me a lot of Dwayne Polee, and the more Polee-type players, the better for SDSU. If he can get healthy, Pope will likely play behind Polee. He could be a potential sixth man candidate. However, if he can't get healthy, Pope might redshirt his freshman season.

SG Trey Kell (6'4", 200 pounds) San Diego, Calif.

From ESPN Insider:

"Strengths:

If coaches are looking for one of the most gifted scorers in the west coast class of 2014, they should look no further than the silky smooth Kell. Kell can score at all three levels due to his skill set and scoring savvy. His 3-point shot is feathery and he is deceptively crafty off the bounce. Making sound decisions (savvy) in transition with his passing acumen and getting into the passing lanes on defense offers other reasons why his stock is elevating. He isn't the quickest nor the fastest prospect, but it would be hard-pressed to find a more skilled and college-ready wing-type in California.

Weaknesses:

Kell needs to continue to work on improving his quickness and bounce. He is a solid athlete, but he lacks true explosion while attacking the rim. Defensively, he needs to improve his ability to slide his feet while guarding quicker wing-types.

Bottom Line:

In the class of 2014, there are not too many wings (if any) as offensively skilled (pure scorer) than Kell. He lacks elite-level athleticism, but he's crafty and plays on balance all time."

Will he play?

Kell, a four-star recruit and ESPN's eighth best shooting guard in California, is already a college shooter. He'll compete with Matt Shrigley, who had somewhat of a disappointing shooting season, for that "wing-shooter-sixth-man-potential-starter" spot. Kell isn't the most talented SDSU recruit, but he is the most refined in his skills and ready to play big-time minutes. Depending on how Kell and Shrigley play in the fall, Kell could get anywhere from five to 20 minutes a game.

PG Kevin Zabo (6'2", 175 pounds) Gatineau, Quebec, Canada

From ESPN Insider:

"Strengths:

Zabo shows great potential moving forward. He is very advanced for his age, both physically and in terms of his approach to the game. He has a natural basketball body with speed, quickness, and a strong frame and the feel for the game to vary his speeds and make good decisions. He is already comfortable playing with older and more mature players and has a natural composure and presence to his floor game.

Weaknesses:

While Zabo has played to rave reviews early in his career one of the first lingering questions is the quality of his jump shot as he rarely looks for it in the game and is much more of a driver or passer than he is a shooter.

Bottom Line:

Maturing and growing into the point guard position and now has a floor presence while taking command of his team. It's early but he is hearing from Villanova, Georgetown, West Virginia, Virginia, Iowa, Iowa State, George Washington and Illinois."

Will he play?

Zabo, ESPN's fourth best point guard in New Hampshire and a three-star recruit, is the Aztec recruit with the least amount of high school acclaim, but he's the most likely to start. Zabo's body is pure point guard: very strong, small frame with dazzling speed. He doesn't have a great jump shot, but his drive-and-dish skills are impressive, similar to what Xavier Thames would do a lot for the Aztecs this season. The point guard job is wide open for the 2014-15 Aztecs, and it'll most likely come down to Aqeel Quinn, D'Erryl Williams and Zabo. He has a shot to win the starting job.

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