Things change in recruiting all the time. In the spring they change even more quickly. April 11th, just 12 days ago, Matthew Cleveland entered the transfer portal. Within the first few days we thought the picture was pretty clear. Then it got cloudy, now it’s beginning to clear up again. Now Cleveland is down to just three schools:
Florida State transfer Matthew Cleveland tells me that he has cut his list to three schools:— Jon Rothstein (@JonRothstein) April 22, 2023
All signs and intel over the first few days had him being drawn into the portal by an unknown school. I guessed at the time it was Michigan because the initial indications were they would be a major player in where Cleveland would land. They were a finalist in his initial recruitment, the relationship with Juwan Howard was good, and the Wolverines had a need on the wing. Now I’m beginning to think that school is Auburn.
In my piece on Cleveland last weekend I said this about how players like him usually land in the portal:
“Guys like Cleveland are often lured into the portal by promises or interest given from coaches at other schools, with potential of how much NIL money may be involved. How it works isn’t technically illegal, but a coach can always be recruiting other players and talk to a Grassroots coach or even a close relative and basically say “if Player A would get into the transfer portal we would take him and if he came here our collective might be able to pay around X.”
All of this may seem gross, it’s because it mostly is. I’m also not sure you can absolve Missouri here since I’m sure they’ve done the same with other players. But we know it wasn’t Mizzou who lured Cleveland into the portal, but once he was there they pounced. So the initial clarity which turned foggy? That fog had a name apparently. We call him CY.
Cleveland’s lead recruiter at Florida State was Charlton “CY” Young, and the relationship there is very strong. Strong enough that he had Cleveland on campus in Columbia nearly right away. The visit was Cleveland’s second since entering the portal. Per 247sports.com last night, Cleveland also made the trip to Miami last week. He’s also planning on heading to Auburn.
Eliminated from the top three were the Wolverines and North Carolina. Auburn and Miami have been mentioned throughout the process. UNC being eliminated isn’t a surprise since they landed Stanford transfer Harrison Ingram yesterday. But it was surprising to see Michigan out. There were rumors Auburn was fighting to catch up to Michigan and Missouri, but it turns out that should have been flipped. Bruce Pearl has made a living out of the Atlanta area, and that’s where Cleveland calls home.
But never bet against CY. That’s just my professional advice.
Much of the news last night surrounded Cleveland’s top 3. But 247sports also got a source to talk and flesh out the picture a bit more. From that article:
... the current plan is to take his visit to Auburn by the middle of next week and make a decision within the 14 days following before the semester lets out on May 5th.
As Cleveland continues to undergo this transfer process, he has some specific things he is looking for in his next step including finding a winning program, a place he can contribute to a winning culture, continue to grow and expand his game, work on his efficiency, get bigger and stronger, make it to the NCAA Tournament and to grow as a leader and as a teammate.
I’m not saying that’s exactly what MU will provide but...
A week ago it seemed like Mizzou and Cleveland was an extreme long shot. They had Caleb Grill and Tamar Bates coming and got commitments from both. That’s on top of Colorado State transfer John Tonje and JUCO player of the year Curt Lewis. Not to mention former top 50 recruit Aidan Shaw and possibly (likely?) Isiaih Mosley. Missouri could have the deepest and most talented group of guards/wings in the SEC.
The other, and nearly always unspoken, part of this is the NIL side. Initially there was some concern about having Kobe Brown, Isiaih Mosley, and Matthew Cleveland with needed NIL funds. That still may be a factor, but we believe right now the money is there. Cleveland could likely get more from Miami or Auburn, but the relationship and development plan may have more weight.
I’ll also point out that tonight at midnight is the deadline to declare for the NBA Draft. All along we’ve expected Kobe Brown to enter. But he has not announced anything. So while we’re dreaming of lineups, the roster isn’t done yet. The plan right now is get Cleveland, get Shedrick, figure the rest out.
Mizzou is in a very good spot with both Shedrick and Cleveland. So much so that I would be more surprised if they didn’t end up at Missouri than if they did. But, as I said above... things can change quickly. Looking back at the Caleb Love situation, on Tuesday we thought Mizzou was a lock, by Friday he was committing to Michigan. Just keep at it.
Although I hope today stays quiet. It’s my Dad’s 75th birthday and I plan on celebrating it with him so maybe Monday is better for any breaking news at the earliest. Have a good Sunday, everyone!