KU cracks final five for 6-foot-6 Class of 2021 SG Matthew Cleveland

Kansas University basketball recruiting

Kansas University basketball recruiting

The Kansas men’s basketball program recently made the final five for Class of 2021 shooting guard Matthew Cleveland.

Cleveland, who announced a top five of KU, Florida State, Michigan, North Carolina State and Stanford on Twitter, is a 6-foot-6, 190-pound, four-star shooting guard from Atlanta’s Pace Academy, ranked No. 25 in the class according to Rivals.com.

That mark is up 11 spots from his previous ranking in the Rivals 150 and is indicative of his status as a rising prospect whose size and skill have coaches across the country intrigued by his potential.

Rivals.com recruiting analyst Eric Bossi, who recently watched livestream action of Cleveland’s two games with the Atlanta Celtics at The Opening, said Cleveland was “absolutely electric” and “something special” during his most recent outing.

Bossi reported that Cleveland combined for 64 points in those two games and showed the ability to shoot from distance and finish in transition, all while playing with “shot out of a cannon” energy.

“If this is what we can expect from Cleveland here on out, he could be one of the top two or three shooting guard prospects in the class of 2021 and a top 10-15 player nationally,” Bossi wrote.

The fact that KU made the cut in Cleveland’s final five is significant because the Jayhawks are the only blue blood program still in the running and will be competing against just two teams from the South the rest of the way.

According to Rivals.com’s player data base, Cleveland held offers from Auburn, Clemson, Florida, Georgia, Georgia Tech and Louisville (among others) — all programs within easy driving distance of Atlanta — but those programs are no longer factors.

NC State (6 hours away) and Florida State (4.5 hours) remain contenders in the region, but KU’s campus is closer to Atlanta than Stanford’s and roughly the same distance as Michigan’s.

None of that matters, of course, if Cleveland doesn’t care about the distance or didn’t want to stay close to home in the first place. But recent recruiting history has shown that it can be tough to pluck prospects out of the South when local programs with good reputations are involved in their recruitment.

Cleveland is very much a player on the rise. He started last summer outside of the Rivals Top 50 and is already in the Top 25 with the potential to move up.

The dynamic guard with great size averaged 22.6 points and 6.6 rebounds per game during his junior season and that could just be the beginning.

Here’s a short video of Cleveland’s 32-point game against B Maze Elite. He’s No. 35 in black.

by Matthew Cleveland

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