It’s always uplifting whenever we’re treated to a new version of the “Hometown boy makes good” story. The latest comes to us courtesy of the Arizona State men’s basketball program.
Zylan Cheatham was a standout player at South Mountain High School, ranked on the 247Sports Composite as the No. 13 power forward in the country and No. 2 player in Arizona. But his best college offer came from San Diego State, so he packed his bags and left his native Phoenix to pursue an education and a hoops career.
But there was life after San Diego State when ASU coach Bobby Hurley came calling. After sitting out for a season, the 6’8″ big man got his opportunity this season to get back on the court, return to his roots, and play for a Power 5 program. And just seven games into the 2018-19 schedule he made his mark in the ASU history books.
Cheatham scored 14 points in ASU’s last game, against Texas Southern, and then added 13 rebounds and 10 assists to become just the second player in the history of the program to record a triple-double. The only other Sun Devil to accomplish the feat was Jordan Bachynski during the 2012-13 season, posting a 13-12-12 triple against CS Northridge.
A triple-double has not been recorded in Pac-12 play in the last four years. Gary Payton II last pulled off the feat back in 2014 when he was playing for Oregon State.
It began to feel inevitable after Cheatham’s previous outing, when he had 13 points, 12 rebounds, and nine assists in an 89-71 victory against Nebraska Omaha. Three days later he brought the house down at Wells Fargo Arena by completing the rare hoops trifecta against TSU. The 10,085 fans on hand for the historical feat chanted his name as he left the court.
“For them to acknowledge me and chant my name like that, I haven’t had that in forever,” the redshirt senior offered after the game. “It’s just unbelievable…unbelievable.
“To get that back home in front of my home fans at the tail-end of my college career, it is unbelievable and I don’t think it has really hit me yet.”
Cheatham was well-prepared for his starting role at ASU. He played in 69 games and had 48 starts during his two seasons playing for San Diego State. He averaged 9 points and 5.8 rebounds and helped lead the Aztecs to a Mountain West regular-season title and a semifinal appearance in the postseason NIT.
Despite being ranked as a four-star recruit, his prep career at South Mountain did not get a lot of recognition. The Jaguars, who played in Division II, finished 17-10 his senior year and he was voted to the D-II All-State second team.
But he’s making significant contributions to the Sun Devil program He has started all seven games and is shooting 59 percent from the field. His 12.4 points-per-game are fourth-highest on the team and his 9.6 rebounds and 36 total assists are both stat leaders.
His performances against Texas Southern and Nebraska Omaha earned him the latest Pac-12 Player of the Week honor.
(Photo: ASU Athletics)