Four-star newcomer sidelined with foot injury

by Rafael Avitabile, Staff Writer

Incoming freshman Zylan Cheatham, rated a five-star talent on, was recently diagnosed with a fracture in his left foot and will be out three to four months, according to head coach Steve Fisher.

Fisher told U-T San Diego that Cheatham suffered the fracture in late June, but wasn’t aware of the severity of the injury after consulting with a physical therapist, who initially ruled it a sprain. When he arrived on campus with a slight hitch in his gate, he was sent to get X-rays and the extent of his injury was uncovered.

Cheatham will undergo surgery to repair the break.

If the entire four months of recovery time is necessary, Cheatham would return to action in late December or early January—right around the time the Aztecs begin conference play.

The 6-foot 7-inch forward out of South Mountain High School in Phoenix, Arizona, is a very explosive leaper, which leaves his foot at substantial risk of re-injury if he returns too quickly. Take a look at his latest highlight reel here, which feature his athleticism and above-the-rim playing style.

Cheatham joins freshmen Malik Pope, Trey Kell and Kevin Zabo as one of San Diego State’s most celebrated recruiting classes in history, but with Cheatham and Pope both sidelined Aztec fans will have to wait a while to see the quartet in action.

At this point it seems as if Pope, who is rehabilitating his broken left leg and has no timetable for return, may opt to take a medical redshirt this season. As for Cheatham, coach Fisher said it is much too early to make that decision.

Cheatham has faced a fair share of adversity in the past year, and has handled it well. After the NCAA rejected his completed coursework from his junior year at Westwind Preparatory Academy in Phoenix, Cheatham transferred to South Mountain High School where he worked double-time to complete his senior coursework along with repeating his junior-year curriculum.

The discipline and determination Cheatham showed through his journey to remain eligible are the same personality traits that will help him get through a long and inactive recovery and rehabilitation period.

Don’t be alarmed Aztec fans, all is well on Montezuma Mesa. With senior J.J. O’Brien, and juniors Winston Shepard, Skylar Spencer and Angelo Chol available, coach Fisher has plenty of options at the power forward position.

The Aztecs kick off the regular season on Nov. 14 at the Maui Invitational where they will open up against California State University, Northridge at Viejas Arena.