Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
If Dominic Cheek hears his name called at all during the June 28 NBA Draft, it will likely be from Adam Silver and not David Stern.
The 6-foot-6 Villanova junior wing may well go undrafted but is turning pro in order to help financially support his grandmother, Izaphine “Ice” Howard, who helped raised him from the age of 5 in the rugged city of Jersey City, N.J.
“She’s getting old now,” Cheek told SNY.tv Thursday during a phone interview. “She’s taking care of two of my brothers and I guess it’s just time for me to try to pay her back, try to help her out.
“Just try to help her out any possible way and just try to pursue my pro career.”
Cheek, 21, has two younger brothers back home, Gary Carlisle (16) and Joshua Mickey (10).
One veteran NBA scout said Cheek should think long and hard about coming out.
“Dominic Cheek needs to stay in school and get his degree,” the scout told SNY.tv. “He hasn’t played well at Villanova. I mean, you know that.”
A McDonald’s All-American at St. Anthony High School, Cheek played for Bob Hurley’s undefeated 2007-8 team that featured six Division I-bound seniors and won the mythical national championship.
But he underachieved in college and never received either first- or second-team All-Big East honors.
As a junior, he averaged 12.5 points and 3.9 rebounds while starting 30 games in the backcourt for a team that finished a disappointing 13-19.
Cheek is the second Villanova junior to declare for the draft, following point guard Maalik Wayns, who may end up going late in the second round, if at all.
Cheek has not yet signed with an agent but said he plans to sign with Happy Walters, who also represents Amar’e Stoudemire and former Villanova guard Corey Stokes and is close friends with actor Adam Sandler.
Walters declined comment for this story.
Asked if Cheek was making the right decision, Villanova coach Jay Wright told the Times Herald: “Yeah, I do. But I think it would have been the right decision to stay, too. He only has two semesters left to get his degree so he can always come back and do that. This is an opportunity for him to make some money.”
Cheek said he’s fully prepared to play in Europe if that’s what it takes to help support his grandmother.
“If the NBA don’t work out, [I will] go overseas and make a little bit of money to help out in any possible way,” he said.
“I don’t mind going over there,” he added. “Just try to work hard and stay dedicated.
“It’s not going to stop me from pursuing my NBA career, either, even if I have to go over there for a couple years.”
Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle.
A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013.
He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.