The San Diego State Aztecs will have to wait for the debut of one of their four exciting young freshman. Zylan Cheatham, SDSU's third-highest rated prospect according to ESPN, suffered a broken bone in his foot which should keep him out at least until around January 1.
The four-star recruit out of South Mountain High School in Phoenix, Arizona, is part of one of the finest recruiting class in SDSU's history and should bring needed depth to an already strong starting squad heading in to the season. However, Cheatham, who is listed at 6-foot-7, will fall behind in his development as surgery will keep him on the bench for the early part of the season.
Relatively little is known about coach Steve Fisher’s plans for Cheatham at this point due to the injury, but the freshman has been heralded as a great athlete that brings plenty of toughness both on offense and defense. Aztec fans know that Fisher loves athletic players which he can use at multiple positions and contribute to his lockdown defense. Cheatham is another project with loads of talent that should flourish with a little tutelage under some of the upperclassmen and great developmental coaching.
Cheatham was supposed to come into the season and provide needed size behind both Angelo Chol and Skylar Spencer down low. Upon his return, expect him to be given a serious run at the backup big man positions.
If we fast forward to January 1, the earliest likely date for Cheatham’s return, the Aztecs will be gearing up for the Mountain West season and will have finished up their tough non-conference schedule. Cheatham’s season will likely hinder a lot on how the roster performs early on. That isn’t to say he won’t be given a chance, though, by Fisher.
But the later his return, the more likely the rotation will have become concrete. Cheatham's return date will leave little time to build needed on-court chemistry with his teammates before the schedule becomes increasingly more difficult and the stakes grow higher for the Aztecs.
The future is bright for the young freshman, but the road into the rotation will be a slow one. Expect to see a slow start to Cheatham’s career with the Aztecs. He will definitely take off at some point, we just won’t know when.