How much longer will Dave Brown continue to turn the other Cheek?
Coming into the collegiate basketball season, NAU’s freshman shooting guard Danny Cheek was soaking up the limelight. He was a highly touted California prospect expected to make an immediate impact on the men’s basketball team. Despite all the hype, the only notable impact he’s made so far is the outline of his backside warming the bench.
Aside from the buzzer beater 69-68 victory over ASU, this men’s basketball season has been both incredibly disappointing and controversial. Projected to qualify for the Big Sky Conference Tournament, NAU men’s basketball currently sits dead last in the Big Sky at 1-13. It didn’t help that heralded head coach Mike Adras resigned mid-season, leaving radio commentator and ex-NAU women’s basketball coach Dave Brown to step in as the interim coach. Amid this chaos, Cheek sits on the bench, relegated to minuscule minutes as a role player, with all of that promise and potential seeping away as the weeks go by.
How much longer will Brown continue to turn the other cheek?
The 6-foot-4, 190-pound shooting guard out of Newport Beach, Calif. is one of the highest-rated players NAU has ever signed. College scouts raved of Cheek’s explosive playing style and fiery competitive nature. He also drew praise for his lateral quickness and versatility that allowed him to effectively and efficiently defend the perimeter. Coming into his freshmen year, ESPN labeled Cheek as a 3-star prospect and ranked him as the 51st best shooting guard in the nation. Prior to the beginning of the season, online college sporting news outlet College Sports Madness predicted Cheek would win Big Sky Freshman of the Year, yet he has barely seen any significant playing time whatsoever. What’s the deal here, NAU?
So far this season, Cheek has appeared in the starting lineup zero times and has averaged 7.8 minutes of playing time in non-conference games and 4.4 minutes in Big Sky matchups. Due to his virtually nonexistent court time, Cheek is currently riding a scintillating stat line of 2.5 points, 0.6 boards and .3 assists per game.
So why isn’t Cheek playing? Did it turn out he had the maturity of a six-year-old? Did he get his talent sucked out of him like the NBA players in Space Jam? Did he not mesh well with teammates? Why is our highest rated recruit lighting up the bench instead of the scoreboard?
Something is fundamentally wrong if we don’t try to play our stud freshman. The season is already lost; anyone who argues otherwise is delusional or in serious denial. Why not play the freshman? He can only make the team better. Yes, maybe he does have some growing up to do, but this isn’t the first time collegiate athletes have displayed immaturity. Plus, for all we know, maybe his play will infuse some life into our team and end this dismal season on a high note.
NAU students have a right to know why we aren’t playing our prized and highly ranked freshman.
At this rate, if NAU continues to turn the other cheek, before we know it, Cheek will be gone.