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San Diego State nearing redshirt decision on top-100 freshman forward

Steve Fisher

San Diego State coach Steve Fisher gives signals to his team during the second half of a 73-58 victory over Nevada in a NCAA college basketball game Saturday, Feb. 8, 2014, in San Diego. (AP Photo/Lenny Ignelzi)


San Diego State freshman forward Zylan Cheatham has missed the entire season recovering from a Jones fracture and he’s now been able to return to practice. He’s been form-shooting and is beginning to work back into playing shape after surgery in September. According to a report from Mark Zeigler of the San Diego Union-Tribune, Cheatham recently returned to practice and is in the midst of an important week of five-on-five as the Aztecs have a week between games.

Head coach Steve Fisher will decide if Cheatham will redshirt sometime soon, but this week of practice could dictate a fair share of that decision. The freshman will get a chance to see if he can go full-speed with his teammates and see if he can help them out. Fisher would like to know by Dec. 31st when Mountain West Conference play begins.

“The longer you wait, the less likelihood you would say that he would play,” Fisher said to Zeigler. “But I don’t agree with that for sure. I just want to make sure we make the best decision for him/us – him first, us a very close second.”

Fisher will play Cheatham if he can contribute to the rotation, even if it’s later in the season than many freshman generally start. But the coach also doesn’t want to keep Cheatham on the roster if he’s not going to play, so he’ll have to see how he balances this in the next few weeks.

From Zeigler’s story:

“The reason to play him is, he can be in the rotation and help us win,” Fisher said. “To me it’s that simple, if he can. But I don’t know whether that will be cut and dried. That’s where the decision will come in.

“The other side of it is, if you’re uncertain, do you take a chance on playing two minutes a game, three minutes a game, and some games not at all, and cost you a season? You can trade that for a potential fifth (college) season, and you can close your eyes and imagine what that might look like.”

San Diego State mostly needs to find scoring, since its defense is shutting down opponents and regularly getting stops. The problem for Cheatham? The Aztecs are already loaded with talented wings that are of similar size and Cheatham isn’t a major offensive force who can stretch the floor. The 6-foot-7, 205 pound Cheatham is similar size to Winston Shepard, Dwayne Polee II and Malik Pope.

Cheatham was a top-100 talent, so he could be talented enough to crack the rotation and he is a tough and athletic wing who can attack and make some plays on glass.

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