Bears Making Progress On and Off the Court

Zylan Cheatham. (Josh Gershon)

Phoenix (Ariz.) Westwind power forward Zylan Cheatham has seen his numbers skyrocket as the Bears have rolled over the past several weeks, and the connection hasn't gone unnoticed.

Ever since being offered by California on Feb. 7, four-star 2014 Phoenix (Ariz.) Westwind Academy power forward Zylan Cheatham has been on a roll, as have the Golden Bears.

On that day, Cal lost to Arizona State, 66-62, and they haven't lost since. Cheatham has been averaging a double-double since then, and notched his first triple-double of the year. Clearly, the two parties are in-sync.

"They're playing amazing," Cheatham said. "I've talked to coach (Gregg Gottlieb) on numerous occasions, and he said he couldn't be more happy with their effort. He said they recently changed their playing style to running a lot more flex cuts and stuff like that. It's become a school that plays my style, and they're winning, so it's looking pretty good."

The recent run of success for Cal has seen the Bears rocket up the charts for Cheatham -- a 6-foot-7, 205-pound power forward out of Phoenix (Ariz.) Westwind Prep.

"That helps a lot," Cheatham said. "Of course, I want to go somewhere where they play my style of play, and it'll help me adjust better from college to high school, so they're moving in to that. They've always played a nice style, but they changed it recently, and it's been working."

Gottlieb was the coach who initially offered Cheatham, who now claims 10 scholarship offers, but as he watches Cal on television and sees the Bears get better as the game wears on, it certainly makes the team stand out from the rest, which include Arizona State, Colorado, Oregon State and Utah.

"It shows a lot about practice," Cheatham said. "You can see that what happens in a game reflects what happens in practice, and you can see they're drilling guys and their practices should be pretty tough, because when they get in a game, they go to war."

Though Cheatham says that it's still too early to rank any teams on his list, he said that the Bears are "definitely a considerable option."

"It's close to home," Cheatham said. "I had a family member that actually played there. He's not a close family member, but it's still in the blood. They're definitely a considerable option."

Cheatham's distant relative was actually revealed by associate athletic director and former Cal assistant Jay John to have played for the Bears once upon a time, and further investigation on the part of Cheatham revealed that the relative is on his father's side of the family, somewhere in the vicinity of a third cousin.

"He actually called me one day and said, ‘Do you know this guy?' and I said, ‘No, I don't, but he has my last name, so I guess we're related,'" Cheatham said. "My dad told me that's one of his cousins."

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