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BREAKING: 5-Star Matthew Cleveland Commits to Florida State

Leonard Hamilton has landed another big fish.

Matthew Cleveland, a 5-star wing out of Alpharetta, has committed to Florida State to join Bryce McGowens in the 2021 class. He’s currently the 15th ranked player in 247’s rankings and is listed at 6’6″ and 190-pounds. Cleveland is good friends with McGowens, and this has long been an expected move in the recruiting world. I am of the belief that had he been able to attend the Boston College game, he would’ve committed then. Cleveland becomes the 9th 5-star to ever join the Florida State program.

Assistant Coach Charlton “CY” Young was one of the first to offer Cleveland in 2018 and has once again proven he dominates the Georgia recruiting game. If CY wants a recruit in Georgia, he is going to get them. He’s thrown a lot of eggs into this basket, and it’s good to see it pay off for Coach Young. And what CY specializes in getting out of his wings is exactly what Matthew Cleveland needs.

Here is Jerry Meyer of 247’s scouting report of Cleveland.

Good length for a wing scorer. An explosive athlete with top notch body control. Slasher who specializes in making tough shots. Can keep defense honest with long range shooting but needs to improve in that area. Handles well especially in half court. Not necessarily a playmaker for others. Great potential as a versatile defender. Top notch rebounder for his position.

He’ll be able to act as a secondary ball-handler in Florida State’s offense with McGowens handling the majority of the ball-handling duties. His outside shot will need some work, but the fundamentals are all there. He’s got some stuff you can’t teach, especially his length. Once his jump shot gets more consistent, he’s going to be an unstoppable force offensively.

The Seminoles will be looking to add 3-5 more players in the 2021 class, as MJ Walker, Tanor Ngom, Nate Jack, RayQuan Evans, and Wyatt Wilkes are all seniors, while Scottie Barnes and Sardaar Calhoun are potential professional prospects. Luckily they shouldn’t need any bigs, with Malik Osborne, Balsa Koprivica, and Quincy Ballard scheduled to be on the roster for that season. They are still in good standing with the cousin of Mfiondu Kabengele, Ryan Mutombo. They’re definitely going to want to add another primary ball-handler; Bryce McGowens won’t be able to do everything. I also wouldn’t be surprised to see them go after a developmental wing prospect that they can redshirt.

Florida State is off to a flying start in the 2021 class with both Matthew Cleveland and Bryce McGowens committed, which would put them at the 4th-ranked class this early on in the process. They have a chance to add another 2021 prospect later in the week with Jordan Riley from New York, another wing player. His ranking is more all over the place, going from unranked on 247 to a 3-star on Rivals. He’s an uber-athletic wing player whose jump shot needs a ton of work. People around him believe FSU is the best fit for him since they think FSU has the best development out of his final options, which includes Kansas, Georgetown, St Johns, and UCONN. He announces his decision Friday and placed FSU in his top 5 after just being offered by the staff at the end of June. Cleveland is also AAU teammates with JD Davison, a point guard from Alabama that has FSU listed in his top 10.

Even though the staff has been focused on the 2021 class, there is still an open spot for the 2020 season. I’m expecting it to be a wing player with some play-making capabilities, but as far as an actual name there is no indication who the staff may be looking at.

Here is a more in-depth scouting report.

Strengths

Length and Athleticism

As with every Florida State prospect, his athleticism is eye-popping. His head almost hits the rim on every dunk and layup attempt. His length is going to make him an extremely versatile defender, especially once he adds 15-20 pounds of muscle. Even with his lean frame, he’s remarkably strong around the rim (more on this in a second). This athleticism allows him to be an elite rebounder for his position.

Finishing Around the Rim

Cleveland’s athleticism helps with this, but he has incredible touch around the rim and can get a tough basket whenever it is needed. His body control is on another level and is rarely seen in someone his age. He can finish easily with either hand and is a really powerful dunker. His leaner frame would make you think he’s not that strong, but he’s able to take hits in the air and readjust without being thrown off. He’s sometimes a little too reliant on getting to the rim, but his ability to get there is impressive.

Defensive Versatility

He’s the biggest player on his AAU team, so he plays a lot of defense near the basket and is an ok shot blocker. This will help when he gets to Florida State, because he won’t be a sieve if he gets switched onto a big, and he’s got the strength to be able to fight through screens and post-ups. Once he gets the timing of Florida State’s defensive scheme down, he could easily average a steal or a block per game and it wouldn’t surprise me at all.

Weaknesses

Jump-Shot

Listing anything on Cleveland as a “weakness” is a stretch. Overall, he’s a very complete prospect with the ability to do a multitude of things. His jump shot has great fundamentals and is good enough to keep a defense honest, even if it’s not his biggest strength. Getting to FSU and being around a ton of shooters will really help his development.

Play-Making

If anything, he gets tunnel vision when driving to the rim. He can do that against high schoolers, but once he gets to the ACC and faces defenses that are constantly collapsing on the paint, he’ll need to do a better job of kicking to the open shooter than he does now. He has a tight enough handle to be able to create his own shot, but once he starts using that to create for others it’s going to help him tremendously.

You can follow the newest ‘Nole on Twitter @MCleveland35 and on Instagram @MCleve35.


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