Injuries slow SDSU freshmen Cheatham, Pope

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SAN DIEGO (AP) — Half of San Diego State's touted freshman class is expected to be sitting on the bench when the basketball season opens Nov. 14.

Zylan Cheatham, a 6-foot-7 forward, might not be ready to play until around Jan. 1 after having surgery on a broken foot, coach Steve Fisher said Tuesday.

The Aztecs are being cautious with Malik Pope, a 6-8 forward. He broke a leg during his junior season in high school and reinjured it a year ago. He hasn't played since.

"He has yet to do anything other than non-guarded," Fisher said, referring to the limited work the team is allowed to do before Friday, when the Aztecs begin practice. "There are two of your 13 that are going to be behind the curve in terms of starting out."

Cheatham arrived on campus with a broken foot, Fisher said. He had X-rays on Aug. 26, the day after classes started, and had surgery on Sept. 2 to have a pin inserted.

"We'll be watching him. He thinks he's going to be playing in three months. There's no way that'll happen," Fisher said. "He's thinking he'll be ready to go Dec. 1, and I'm thinking it'll be closer to Jan. 1. But I don't know that for a fact. We'll have to wait and see."

Fisher isn't sure when Pope will be ready to play. He continues to rehab his leg while doing limited work on the court.

"So now we've got to not only make sure we've managed to strengthen all of that in rehab, but now there's the mental part of not having played for 18 months," Fisher said.

Cheatham and Pope form half of SDSU's highly touted recruiting class, along with guards Trey Kell and Kevin Zabo.

"We could use another big guy to get in there for us," Fisher said.

SDSU finished 31-5 last year, reaching the Sweet 16 for the second time in school history before losing to Arizona.

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