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FSU hoops lands five-star Matthew Cleveland

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Florida State basketball has landed yet another five-star prospect.

Matthew Cleveland, a 2021 shooting guard who is from Alpharetta (Ga.) Pace Academy, made his commitment on Tuesday afternoon.

The 6-foot-6 Cleveland was offered by a number of college basketball blue bloods but picked FSU over Kansas, Stanford, Michigan and NC State. And in doing so, Cleveland has chosen the Seminoles and the “New Bloods” under coach Leonard Hamilton.

Cleveland averaged 23 points, nine rebounds, four assists and three steals as a junior in 2019-20.

“He’s very passionate about the game,” Pace Academy coach Sharman White told the Osceola. “Loves to play. He’s the first one out of the locker room for practice, he’s getting shots up. And then character-wise, he carries himself in a way that everybody respects.”

There is a lot to like about Cleveland’s game, which is still developing as he has a final year of high school basketball to go. Cleveland is long and athletic, two prerequisites for FSU coaches, but also shows great energy on both ends of the floor. His leaping ability jumps out immediately, similar to Patrick Williams, as Cleveland rises to get rebounds or go to the basket for a dunk.

White describes Cleveland as smart and funny as well as a basketball player who has carefully analyzed his strengths and weaknesses. In an effort to shore up his jump shot, Cleveland made that a point of emphasis as a junior – and White said he made nearly 50 percent of his 3-pointers.

“He knows what areas he needs to work on,” White said. “One of the knocks on him coming in to this past season is can he shoot the basketball, can he knock down the 3? Shooting was considered one of his weaknesses but he ended up shooting 47 percent from the 3-point line this year. Most teams, college or pro, they take that any day. He’s always out to prove what people might say or doubt about him.”

FSU has long built recruiting ties throughout the Atlanta area as well as the suburbs. One recent diamond in the rough from Georgia was Devin Vassell, who developed into a star in two years at FSU and left early after his sophomore season for the 2020 NBA draft.

The Seminoles have landed a number of five-star prospects in recent years, including Patrick Williams (2019 class) and Scottie Barnes (2020 class). Malik Beasley and Dwayne Bacon (2015) and Jonathan Isaac (2016) were also five-star prospects.

Cleveland joins four-star wing Bryce McGowens as FSU commitments for the class of 2021.

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