It’s not that Matthew Cleveland wasn’t flattered by the attention or even, to some degree, excited; it was just, well, too late.
Late last month after a dominant performance at the OnTheRadarHoops event in Atlanta in which he averaged 32 points a game, Cleveland said he received inquiries from North Carolina and Kentucky, both of which tuned into the event’s livestream to see him, about whether he’d be open to them beginning the recruitment process.
The only problem was that Cleveland was releasing his top five schools the Monday following the event.
“I’d already had my five by then,” Cleveland said. “I told them right away. I thanked them for reaching out but told them I wasn’t interested.”
On June 29, Cleveland released a top five of North Carolina State, Florida State, Stanford, Kansas and Michigan.
Cleveland will announce his decision on July 22 at 3 p.m. ET.
“I know that those are two of the schools that most players wait to hear from,” Cleveland said. “They’re great programs, but I had put so much time into coming up with my list. I had built a connection with those coaches, and it was tough to get it to five. I was set on those schools.”
Cleveland said the coaches from North Carolina and Kentucky followed up to make sure, but eventually got the picture “after about a week.”
“I was at 16 schools, and I had to get it to five,” said Cleveland, who averaged 22 points a game last season at Pace Academy (Atlanta). “This process can be stressful, and it was draining to get my list down so when they North Carolina and Kentucky reached out I didn’t even entertain it. I just didn’t want to add more stress on myself.”
That said, Cleveland said getting to one “is a lot harder than five for sure.”
“It’s a tough decision, but I’m just going to do what’s best for me,” Cleveland said. “It’s harder when all of your options are great.”