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July 21, 2013

Position change helps Cheatham

MORE: Player of Serra teammates yields results

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Don't get Zylan Cheatham wrong. He loved his experience on the EYBL circuit with California Supreme, and he's beyond grateful for the opportunity he received this spring and summer.

But the four-star forward was tired of playing as an in-the-post center or power forward. He wants to be a wing at the next level, so he joined Arizona Magic Pump N Run to show he can be just that.

This weekend at the Double Pump Best of Summer tournament, he's proving the decision to switch teams was a fruitful one. Cheatham has been the biggest draw for college coaches this week in Anaheim, pulling in head coaches from New Mexico, San Diego State, Colorado, Arizona State and Washington, as well as assistants from many other top programs. He's played well in front of them, too.

Cheatham had probably his best day Saturday, working as more of a point forward than a power forward. He rebounded well, played with hustle and posted one of the highlights of the tournament with a poster dunk.

Next week, the NCAA world will have a better idea of where he'll take that talent.

Cheatham said he will narrow his list to 10, maybe even eight, on Friday. After that, he'll work on a list of five and try to make a decision by his birthday on Nov. 17.

"When I get down to five, that's when it's going to get busy," Cheatham said. "That's going to be my five official visits, so it's going to be busy from then on."

Cheatham said San Diego State, New Mexico, Arizona State and Washington are standing out as schools recruiting him the hardest. Lorenzo Romar, he said, has been particularly noticeable.

"Coach Romar has been at every one of my games (in the) front row," Cheatham said. "He's been in the gym before I was. He's really been picking it up. He's really showing some serious interest."

But Cheatham is far from naming a leader. His five official visits will be crucial, and finding a school that can use him as a point forward will be a huge factor.

"It's going to be tough," Cheatham said of cutting things down. "But it's something I have to do."

Court game key for Barefield

He's not the biggest guard, and as a result top 100 2015 prospect Sedrick Barefield knows he'll have to show more than his seemingly effortless scoring ability if he wants to play beyond college.

It may seem like a far-away concept for someone who has two years of high school remaining, but the generously listed 6-foot-2 Corona (Calif.) Centennial High star always has been prodigious, ahead of the curve.

"I've really been focused on just being more patient, a better facilitator," Barefield said Friday. "Scoring the ball has always been there for me and I think people thought I wasn't really a true point guard, but I've always had the vision and ability to do that. I'm just making it more of a priority now because I'm not that big, so playing the one is where I'm going to wind up, for sure."

For at least a day, Barefield had the full attention of a rapt audience of dozens of college coaches, who saw him create one basket after another for Compton Magic Select while showcasing his ample ability to fill it up from all levels.

"I'm just trying to play my game and not think so much," said Barefield, who had a great showing against standout point guard Robert Cartwright a day earlier. "I was talking to Robert a day earlier and telling him what we were going to do, and we ended up getting the win and I played good."

Barefield said he's picked up offers from Boston College, Connecticut, Kansas State, Memphis and San Diego State. He is hearing a lot from Michigan and USC and a little bit from Florida.

Fitzner plays big when needed most

Evan Fitzner will be the first to tell you he's had better weeks. Shoot, better months. But when his Pump N Run Elite squad needed him in Saturday night's closely contested open-bracket quarterfinals win over Superior Prospects, he delivered.

An unranked 6-foot-10 power forward out of Francis Parker High in San Diego, Fitzner hoped to put his best foot forward in several high-profile tournaments but instead stepped on it wrong and sprained an ankle late in a Thursday win.

Fitzner played through the ankle sprain -- which looked clearly swollen a day earlier -- and hit several second-half 3-pointers. He delivered more of a post presence on Saturday against an undersized but ultra-athletic Superior Athletes team.

"I haven't been playing my best, but I just want to keep pushing on," Fitzner said. "The first tournament wasn't very good, but I've been working on the mental part of the game and have done better this week. The ankle has bothered me some, but I'm trying to not think about it and go out there and do whatever I can to help the team win."

Fitzner has a broad skill base for a big kid, and a lot of offers have come as a result of his high ceiling. Arizona State, California, Colorado, New Mexico, Oregon State, San Diego and Washington are on the board.

Cage Jr. breaks out

The son of NBA veteran Michael Cage proved he was more than just a namesake Saturday afternoon.

Six-foot-8 Michael Cage, Jr., in fact, showed he's a big-time 2016 recruit.

The California Supreme big man, who said he's expected to grow to 6-foot-11 or 7-foot, displayed a surprising skill set for such a young post. He ran the floor well at 220 pounds, and he finished around the basket with both hands.

He even drew a huge crowd of college coaches from San Diego State, Utah, USC, Cal, Colorado and more.

"(Opponents) just kind of go at me more because they know my dad played in the NBA," Cage said after his big performance. "So they want to see what I can do by going at me. But I just give them my best."

So far Cage has one offer from SDSU, but he is hearing from UCLA, USC, Cal and Arizona as well.

He credits his early success to a lot of his father's teaching.

"He told me to play hard," Cage said. "He wasn't a star, but he always worked hard and earned his spot and started in the NBA."

Idaho shooter didn't always have skill

Utah Pump N Run advanced to the quarterfinals of the Best of Summer 16-and-under bracket behind the strong play of Malek Harwell, a 6-foot-4, 175-pound shooting guard.

Harwell is a rare Division I prospect in the respect that he's from Idaho, a state that doesn't see many prospects of his caliber.

"It's been up and down, but I've been playing well overall," Harwell said. "I've got to get my dribbling even better and play above the rim more because colleges like to see that."

Even before he hit a handful of 3-pointers in Saturday's big win, Harwell had developed a reputation on the summer circuit as a lights-out marksman. He said that has not always been the case.

"I couldn't really shoot it at first, so that's coming along very well," said Harwell, who will be a junior at Century High in Pocatello. "Defense, my footwork needs to get quicker. I used to be quick, but I've been growing so I have to get lower on those quicker guards."

Utah State was first to offer Harwell, and his games have usually had observers from the Pac-12, including Arizona State, Colorado and Stanford. Boise State and Gonzaga are also involved.

Saturday tip-ins

2016 California Supreme point guard Devearl Ramsey continued a strong summer, hitting shots from deep and displaying high-level athleticism. He said he holds an offer from USC and interest from UCLA, Cal and Arizona.

2015 Gamepoint guard Justin Simon said he's been receiving new interest from Boston College after his strong performances this past week.

2015 point guard Kahlil Simplis added an offer from New Mexico State after playing well for California Supreme.

Devin Watson, a 5-foot-10 point guard at Army and Navy Academy in Carlsbad, Calif., has performed well on a big stage in July and picked up offers from Loyola Marymount, Oregon State, San Diego and UTEP. He said Connecticut and Gonzaga are becoming more involved.

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