Starting Five: Matthew Cleveland electrifies at OTR The Opening
Event directors and grassroots teams around the country continue to innovate and change the viewing and evaluation process. Over the years, we have been regulars at Shun Williams On the Radar Hoops events in the Atlanta area. On Saturday, he teamed up with SUVtv.com to live-stream his absolutely loaded event, The Opening.
Top 25 rising senior Matthew Cleveland was absolutely electrifying and leads off a Starting Five dedicated to recapping the event.
1. MATTHEW CLEVELAND ELECTRIFIES
In my best Rick Flair voice, "Wooooohhhhhhh", rising senior shooting guard Matthew Cleveland from Atlanta (Ga.) Pace Academy was something special during two games with the Atlanta Celtics.
I have seen Cleveland show flashes of brilliance in the past and he's always been an athletic transition finisher. I have never seen him put it together in every aspect of the game like he did on Saturday in some high-level battles while he went for a combined 64 points in two games.
Currently ranked No. 25 nationally, Cleveland was hitting shots, getting to the rim and kept the same shot out of a cannon energy all day long in what I'm told was a very hot gym. I only wish I could have seen his performance in person because if the energy came through like that on a live stream, it must have been something else on site.
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.
Cleveland has a whole heap of high-level offers with Alabama, Auburn, California, Georgia, Georgia Tech, Florida State, Kansas, Michigan, Stanford and many others. If I was a coach at a top 10 program who hasn't offered Cleveland yet, I'd be wanting to get a look at his game's from the weekend because he sure looks like he can play anywhere in America.
2. SMITH AND HUNTLEY-HATFIELD BACK UP LOFTY STATUS
The two highest ranked players taking the floor on Saturday were 2021's No. 5 ranked player Jabari Smith and 2022's No. 6 ranked player Brandon Huntley-Hatfield. The two power forwards got to spend some time matching up with each other in a game between Smith's Atlanta Celtics and Huntley-Hatfield's Bobby Maze Elite squad.
They didn't disappoint in that matchup or any of their other games at The Opening.
While Cleveland scintillated for the Celtics, Smith was very effective himself. He's an ideal power forward prospect because he has low post game, passes well out of the high post and can stretch defenses with his jump shooting. He is pretty dang efficient and has a tremendous feel on the offensive end. Now he's growing into his long and lean frame and his development as a player is right on track. It is pretty mind boggling that the blue bloods aren't yet battling for him but Auburn, Georgia, Georgia Tech, Florida State, LSU (where his father played), Mississippi, Tennessee and others would gladly have him.
The more I see Huntley-Hatfield, the more he reminds me some of a young Marvin Williams. Now, Huntley-Hatfield has to get much more consistent with his effort and not float to the perimeter as much, but he is skilled and fluid at almost 6-foot-10. His jump shot is pretty, he has a prototype body for a big man and he can run. As good as he is, he still seems to be just scratching at the surface of what he could be when he unlocks his inner beast. Auburn, Kansas, Georgetown, Georgia, Kentucky, Memphis, Mississippi, Virginia Tech and more have already offered.
3. JD DAVISON IS DOWN TO 10, EVOLVING AS PLAYMAKER
On Thursday, five-star point guard JD Davison announced that he has a final 10 of Alabama, Arkansas, Auburn, Florida, Florida State, Georgia, Kansas, Louisville, LSU and Memphis. On Saturday with the Alabama Fusion, he was showing off what he can do as a full-time point guard.
Davison broke onto the scene last summer because of his ridiculous athleticism and his ability to score the ball in traffic. Now, he's proving that he's much more than an athlete and I was very impressed by his ability to see the floor and find open teammates. Add that vision to his explosiveness and you get one really dangerous player. Davison wasn't a huge scorer on Saturday, but I've seen him do that. Seeing him make plays for others and play a more all-around game was beneficial.
I don't know if I could pick a leader for him just yet, but the early thought is that he isn't likely to go too far from home and outside of Kansas, his final list of 10 sure suggests he would like to stay in the Southeast.
4. MALIQUE EWIN COMING ON STRONG IN 2022
A Rivals150 prospect from the class of 2022, Malique Ewin of Lilburn (Ga.) Berkmar looked like a future ACC or SEC big man while playing for Team Huncho.
Ewin got off to somewhat of a slow start but came alive thanks to turning up the energy and going to work on the offensive glass. At one point in a game, he had scored five straight times off of offensive rebounds.
At 6-foot-9 he's got good shoulders, runs well enough, has good strength and he's got absolutely top notch hands. Ewin also has a great feel for what is happening on the floor and is a potentially high-level rebounder.
Georgia, Georgia Tech and Xavier are his first three offers.
5. FIVE QUICK THOUGHTS
.... I thought that wing Andrew Williams of Bobby Maze Elite really did some nice things. He's got good size and athleticism plus was making many tough jumpers. Ranked in the top 50 small forwards nationally, he's got a chance to move the needle a bit. South Carolina is thought to have gotten in there pretty strong early on while others like Iowa State, Murray State and Wichita State have turned things up of late.
.... Thanks to his play over the weekend, power forward Ian Schieffelin of Team Curry picked up his first high major offer from Clemson. Schieffelin played for a guard-dominated team as a junior but made noise of his own and looks to have taken another step. He's a four man who can soften defenses as a shooter.
.... Four-star forward Kaleb Washington of Game Elite looked the part of a top 100 type player in the class of 2021. He does a lot of things pretty well and does so with pretty good positional size and fine athleticism. His shooting is an asset as is his calm demeanor and playing style. Arkansas, Cincinnati, Clemson, Georgia, Georgia Tech, Florida State and Missouri have all offered.
.... One of the top 50 power forwards in the class of 2021, Keshawn Murphy of the Alabama Fusion looks to be a good pickup for Rick Stansbury and Western Kentucky. He's got to be pushing 6-foot-9 at this point, runs very well, has some strength, plays hard on the glass and looked good on a couple of turnaround jumpers.
.... Finally, I only watched games from the 17 U division -- although I will be diving into 16U action during the week -- but a pair of younger players caught my eye in 2023 guard Caleb Foster of Team Curry and 2024 (!) guard Jahseem Felton of Bobby Maze. Foster played with great poise, has good size at 6-foot-3 and likes to play fast. His play earned him a scholarship offer from Virginia Tech. As for Felton, he's only going to be a freshman this year but he sure looks to be oozing with talent. He's already at least 6-foot-3 or so, has good athleticism and didn't look at all scared playing up three age groups on a big stage. I'll wager we write about him quite a bit over the next four years.