Florida State basketball lands 5-star shooting guard Matthew Cleveland

Wayne McGahee III
Tallahassee Democrat

Florida State coach Leonard Hamilton has turned his basketball program into a powerhouse.

The Seminoles are coming off the best regular season in program history, including the first regular-season ACC Title.

FSU's momentum has continued onto the recruiting trail as well.

Five-star shooting guard Matthew Cleveland committed to the Seminoles over Kansas and Michigan Tuesday. He also holds offers from Florida, Louisville, Purdue, and Xavier, among others.

The Seminoles were the third program to offer Cleveland in March 2019, and the FSU coaching staff has been after him hard since that point.

The Alpharetta, Ga. native named a Top-5 of FSU, KU, UM, Stanford, and North Carolina State, but Kentucky and North Carolina both tried to get into his recruitment late, according to reports.

Cleveland averaged 22.3 points, 8.1 rebounds, and 2.9 steals per game for Pace Academy during the 2019-2020 season. 

247Sports director of basketball scouting Jerry Meyer describes Cleveland as "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."

FSU is known for having long, athletic guards that defend at a high level, and Cleveland should fit well into that role at 6-foot-6, 190 pounds.

Cleveland is listed as the No. 24 overall player and the No. 3 shooting guard in the 247Sports composite rankings. He is listed as a four-star in the composite rankings, which combine Rivals, 247Sports, and ESPN's rankings into one comprehensive ranking.

He is ranked as the No. 15 overall player and the No. 2 shooting guard in 2021 recruiting class by 247Sports. 

Cleveland is the second commitment for FSU in the 2021 recruiting class and the second player in the Top-50. He joins four-star shooting guard Bryce McGowens, who is ranked as the No. 35 overall player in the composite rankings and the No. 44 overall player by 247Sports. 

FSU moves up to No. 5 in the composite team rankings with his commitment and is the No. 2 team in the ACC behind Louisville. The four teams ahead of the Seminoles all have one more commitment than FSU does currently. 

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Five-Star University?

FSU has become a destination for five-star and high four-star recruits over the past seven years.

The Seminoles have landed a five-star prospect every year since 2018. They signed only one prospect that year, three-star Devin Vassell. Vassell is a likely lottery pick and could be a Top 10 pick in the upcoming NBA Draft. 

FSU is one of eight programs in college basketball to land at least three five-star prospects since the 2019 class. Only 26 of the more than 350 Division I college basketball programs have landed a five-star over that span. 

That number does include the 2021 recruiting class, which will likely add more programs to this number as more recruits come off the board. But FSU is also in the mix for more five-star prospects in the class, which would elevate the Seminoles into an even smaller category.

FSU has brought in six players that have been ranked as a five-star prospect by at least one recruiting service since 2015, including Cleveland. That number goes up to eight when the cutoff is extended to Top 50 prospects. 

All four of the Top-50 prospects that have signed with FSU that have now left the program have been drafted to the NBA. Three of those players have been selected in the first round with one more – forward Patrick Williams – likely becoming the fourth in the the 2020 NBA Draft.

Five-stars at FSU

2015: Shooting guard Dwayne Bacon

2016: Forward Jonathan Isaac

2017: Shooting guard M.J. Walker

2019: Forward Patrick Williams 

2020: Guard/Forward Scottie Barnes

2021: Shooting guard Matthew Cleveland

Reach Wayne McGahee III at or follow him on Twitter @WayneMcGaheeIII

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