University of Akron men's basketball head coach Keith Dambrot announced on Tuesday that Kwan Cheatham (Cincinnati, Ohio), B.J. Gladden (Charlotte, N.C.), Aaron Jackson (Gahanna, Ohio) and Isaiah Johnson (Cincinnati, Ohio) have signed national letters of intent to play for the Zips in the 2013-14 season.
"We are very excited about this class. They are very diversified, possess good skills and allow us to continue to play with the high-majors because of their size and strength," Dambrot said. "They come from great high school coaches and tremendous families. We believe these players allow us to continue our development as a basketball program."
Cheatham, a 6-9 power forward at Winton Woods High School, averaged 12.8 points, 6.7 rebounds, 3.1 steals, 1.7 blocked shots and 1.1 steals as a junior. He finished the 2011-12 campaign shooting 44.7 percent form the field and 71.0 percent for the charity stripe. He was named honorable mention All-Ohio (Division I) last year.
"Kwan is a diversified big man that has unlimited upside. He has the skills of a guard and the strength of a power forward," Dambrot said. "He understands what it takes to be successful at this level because he's seen his brother succeed in football at the University of Cincinnati. His ability to shoot the ball gives him a mismatch advantage."
Gladden, a 6-6 forward at Olympic High School, averaged 19 points and nine boards as a junior. He was named Second-Team All-State as a junior and is ranked as the No. 31 player in the class of 2013 from the state of North Carolina by ESPN.
"We are very fortunate to sign a player of the caliber of B.J. Gladden. Coach Weigand worked very hard to recruit him early," Dambrot stated. "B.J.'s uncle, LeBron, was a teammate of Coach Weigand's and an All-American for me at Ashland. He is very physical, but plays with a lot of finesse and has great instincts. As his motor improves, he will have the ability to play both inside and outside."
Jackson, a 6-6 guard from Gahanna Lincoln High School, finished his junior campaign averaging 15.6 points, 5.1 rebounds and 1.2 assists per game while shooting 39 percent from the floor and 33.8 percent from long range. He is a two-time All-Ohio Capital Conference selection. Gahanna Lincoln is the same high school as former Zip Nate Linhart.
"Aaron continues in the long line of successful basketball players from Gahanna Lincoln High School, as most of the players graduate college-ready," Dambrot said. "He has a great motor, personality and can guard any position on the floor. His ability to shoot the ball, his length and his leadership skills are his greatest assets."
Johnson, a 6-10 center with a 7-2 wingspan from Walnut Hills High School, averaged a double-double as a junior, posting 17.3 points and 11.6 rebounds per game in addition to 2.7 blocked shots per contest. He was a 62.3 percent shooter from the floor, earning First-Team All City and All-District honors, as well as Honorable Mention All-Ohio accolades.
"Isaiah is an important commitment for our program. He is a big, strong, athletic guy that will allow us to control the paint," Dambrot stated. "He is a low-block presence, with a good basketball IQ, who we will eventually play through. He is a very good rebounder and possesses the passing ability to get others involved."
The signing of all four players concludes Akron's commitments during the early signing period.
The Zips return to action on Sunday, Dec. 2, when they play host to Middle Tennessee at James A. Rhodes Arena. Tip-off is set for 2 p.m. ET.