Enoch Cheeks sets up against Milwaukee. Photo credit: Justin Newton

Enoch Cheeks takes massive leap from freshman to sophomore season

Enoch Cheeks has become exactly the player Robert Morris hoped he would over his first two seasons.

February 9, 2022

When sophomore guard Enoch Cheeks stepped foot onto the campus of Robert Morris in the summer of 2020, there was a lot of uncertainty surrounding the realm of college basketball.

The COVID-19 pandemic swept the nation, forcing many schools to push their fall sports to the spring while leaving winter sports in a pit of uncertainty.

Cheeks had a decent freshman year with the minutes that he was given as he averaged around 16 minutes per game while logging 4.5 points per game. In his limited role, he shot 43 percent from the field and 25 percent from beyond the arc.

In his sophomore season, Cheeks has flourished, averaging nine points per game and an even more impressive number of five rebounds per game to boot, completely doubling his production and becoming a relied upon member of the rotation.

Cheeks spoke on the huge jump that he made from year one to year two.

“It’s just good to see that my hard work is paying off,” Cheeks said. “I spent countless hours in the gym in the offseason and during the season working on my shot and just trying to learn the system more. I still have a lot of work to do, but ultimately, I’m just proud of how my game has evolved so far this season.”

Robert Morris head coach Andy Toole has had a front-row seat to Cheeks’ development over the past two seasons, and he lauded the guard’s play earlier on in the season.

“We always knew that he had great physical gifts and great explosiveness,” Toole said. “All those tools are a part of his repertoire, and when he gets going, it certainly helps us as a team in a major way and we need him to be going all the time.”

When players find success, the game can often slow down for them. Cheeks also explained how the game has felt for him throughout the season.

“It has and it has been easier when reading defenses,” he said. “Coming in as a freshman and learning the system, it is hard to pick it up right away, so definitely by having an extra year and just going through the process, again and again, it makes it easier for me.”

I had the chance to sit down with Kahliel Spear, Kam Farris and Cheeks before the season began to discuss the state of the team. One thing that Cheeks wanted to do this season was work on his dunking.

He has done that on multiple occasions this season, putting on a show by posterizing his opponents and getting the crowd on their feet.

Cheeks expressed how happy he was to get that dunk and elevate his game.

“It has been awesome, just getting on the rim is great because I am an athletic guy just trying to showcase my athleticism more and use it every chance.”

Enoch Cheeks dunk
Enoch Cheeks celebrates a dunk against Green Bay. Photo Credit: Tyler Gallo

The season got off to a rough start for Robert Morris, losing their first seven conference games of the season. Cheeks explained the frustration that the team was feeling.

“It was frustrating but Coach Toole kept our head high,” Cheeks said. “We went harder in practice and the work just paid off. We started picking up and winning games.”

As of late, the Colonials have strung together some wins and slowly inched their way up the standings.

He discussed how big of a boost it was for them to go on a bit of a run in recent weeks.

“I think teams are starting to see what we are capable of because every conference game that we lost has been big fights against the teams,” he said. “It was just a matter of time for us pushing through that hump. Having that momentum, picking up games late rolling into the playoffs is great so we can connect and glue together and hopefully just make a run.”

Chemistry is a major part of any team regardless of the sport. Over the past month or so, Cheeks and his teammates have started to build that cohesion.

He remarked about how building chemistry was crucial to the team’s success down the stretch of the rest of the season.

“We definitely have better chemistry going on from previous months, but there is still a lot of gelling that needs to go on,” he said. “So far, I am so proud for how far that we have come since September. We have formed into a way better team later on into the year.”

After defeating IUPUI on Saturday, Robert Morris returns home to start a stretch of games where they play four of the next five games at the UPMC Events Center.

It’s just good to see that my hard work is paying off. I spent countless hours in the gym in the offseason and during the season working on my shot and just trying to learn the system more. I still have a lot of work to do, but ultimately, I’m just proud of how my game has evolved so far this season.

— Enoch Cheeks on his improvement over the offseason

Cheeks talked about some of the keys that the team has to focus on as they take on three tough opponents in Detroit Mercy, Oakland, and Youngstown State starting Wednesday.

“We have to take it game by game and just focus on one game at a time and try to sustain our effort,” Cheeks said. “I know sometimes that we will do good for certain stretches of games and others we just lack, so competing the whole 40 minutes, we can be in some good situations.”

Cheeks will look to continue his dominant performance tonight as they host Detroit Mercy at 7 p.m.

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